Three reasons why iPSC-derived atrial cardiomyocytes are poised to accelerate atrial fibrillation research
Atrial fibrillation is estimated to affect around 6 million people in Europe, making it the most common arrhythmia observed in the clinic. The irregular heartbeat and disturbed electrical activity experienced by atrial fibrillation patients is commonly treated by surgical interventions such as pacemakers or the ablation of diseased tissue, or with non-selective class IC (Nav) and III (Kv) ion channel anti-arrhythmic drugs. However, these approaches can have serious side-effects, so extensive research has been devoted to better understand the cellular mechanisms behind the disease to develop safer and more effective treatments.
Atrial fibrillation is the most common arrhythmia observed in the clinic, affecting 6 million patients in Europe and accounting for 30% of strokes. The prevalence of atrial fibrillation continues to grow due to an aging population and is expected to double over the next 50 years. Given the need to develop safer and more effective anti-arrhythmic therapeutics, considerable efforts have been made to understand the cellular mechanisms of the disease and translate this knowledge into innovative treatments.
Through the previous blogs in this series, we have understood the challenges which somatic cells face when changing their career path to become induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), the ways in which we can induce this change, and how we might assess whether this is the right career for the cells through pluripotency and differentiation assays.
In our previous blog we likened somatic cell reprogramming to a career change. Once a somatic cell has been converted to an induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC), the next stage in the process can be thought of as an appraisal or performance review. This is essential to confirming that the reprogrammed cell is behaving as expected.
Somatic cells can be compared to human beings in that they grow up to perform a specific function in life. While a human being may develop into a world class athlete or a research scientist, a somatic cell can develop into any of the cell types that make up an organism except the germline cells.