ES Cells to the Rescue

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Science  08 Oct 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5694, pp. 239-240
DOI: 10.1126/science.1104769

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Unlocking the therapeutic potential of embryonic stem (ES) cells has remained a tantalizing but elusive goal. In their Perspective, Chien, Moretti and Laugwitz discuss new work ( Fraidenraich et al.) showing that ES cells can rescue otherwise lethal cardiac defects in mouse embryos even when injected into the peritoneum of the mother prior to conception. The rescue effect is not due to differentiation of the ES cells into cardiac cells per se, but rather to their secretion of factors that act locally or at a distance via the maternal circulation to trigger proliferation of cardiac muscle cells in the mutant mouse embryos.