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Engineering Excitable Cells for Studies of Bioelectricity and Cell Therapy

By altering the genetic makeup of normally "unexcitable" cells, Duke University bioengineers have turned them into cells capable of generating and passing electrical current.

This proof-of-concept advance could have broad implications in treating diseases of the nervous system or the heart, since these tissues rely on cells with the ability to communicate with adjacent cells in order to function properly. This communication is achieved through the passage of electrical impulses, known as action potentials, from cell to cell.

The researchers achieved this transformation by introducing genes into the cells that result in the formation of ion channels which are openings, or gates, on the surface of cells. Ion channels allow the flow of electrically charged molecules, or ions, to exit or enter the cell thus enabling the transfer of electric current from one cell to its neighbor.

Click "source" for entire article.

"Engineering biosynthetic excitable tissues from unexcitable cells for electrophysiological and cell therapy studies." (http://www.nature.com/ncomms/journal/v2/n5/full/ncomms1302.html)
 
 

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