Illustration of a strong heart flexing its muscle

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Illustration by Tony Oshlick

Allowing a diseased heart to heal itself—reducing the need for bypass surgery, transplants, or artificial pumps—is a step closer to a reality, however distant it still remains. Rutgers scientists successfully removed connective tissue cells from a human heart, reverse-engineered them into heart stem cells, and then re-engineered them into heart muscle cells. For the first time, the newly created cardiac muscle cells that merged into a single unit could be seen under a microscope visibly pumping. The study, the findings of which were published in Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology, was led by Leonard Y. Lee, chair of the Department of Surgery at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School