A study carried out by Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute researchers has found that the injection of a single gene (Tbx18) can make ordinary heart cells become replicas of 'highly specialised pacemaker cells'.
The research will be published in the January 8 issue of Nature Biotechnology, and is said to be a 'major step forward' in correcting failing and erratic heartbeats.
A private health insurance plan can help to ensure you and your loved ones get the appropriate medical treatment and care.
Heart Institute research scientist Hee Cheol Cho said that his team and others had created primitive biological pacemakers previously but that this study was the first to show that a "single gene can direct the conversion of heart muscle cells to genuine pacemaker cells".
"This is the culmination of ten years of work in our laboratory to build a biological pacemaker as an alternative to electronic pacing devices," said Eduardo Marbán, director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute.
If ensuing research supports the findings of these studies, the researchers said that they believe therapy may be administered by injecting the gene into a patient's heart or creating pacemaker cells in a laboratory and transplanting them into the organ.