Electronic pacemakers help patients' hearts keep proper time and beat with the right rhythm to keep them alive, a job usually done by specialized pacemaker cells in the heart. Patients who need pacemakers often don't have enough of these cells, and as a result, their hearts can beat too fast or too slow, endangering their lives. There may soon be a less invasive biological solution for folks suffering from irregular heartbeats, though
-- researchers at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute
are reporting that they've developed a technique to turn normal heart tissue cells into time-keeping pacemaker cells with the insertion of just a single gene.