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Heartfelt Commitment
09 August 2015

Heartfelt Commitment

Pumping blood around our bodies requires some serious strength, and this crucial role falls to cardiac muscle cells, known as cardiomyocytes. A heart attack can damage these cells and raise the risk of heart failure, but repairing the heart is no easy task; cardiomyocytes cannot renew themselves in adulthood, so research is focusing on stem cells, and on understanding how cardiac muscle develops in the first place. Early in development, the cells that eventually give rise to cardiomyocytes are unspecialised, capable of producing cardiac muscle as well as other heart tissues. However, a recent study found a key regulatory protein, Hopx, which is diagnostic of cells committed to producing only cardiomyocytes; the images represent lineage tracing of progenitor cells expressing Hopx, highlighting the cardiomyocytes which arose from them during development. Being able to identify these muscle-making cells could provide a useful tool for the development of regenerative therapies.

Written by Emmanuelle Briolat

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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