Biological pacemakers as a therapy for cardiac arrhythmias

Eduardo Marbán, Hee Cheol Cho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Cardiac rhythm disorders are caused by malfunctions of impulse generation or conduction. Malfunctions of impulse generation, that is, defects in pacemaking, are often life-threatening. Present therapies span a wide array of approaches, but remain largely palliative. Recent progress in understanding of the underlying biology of pacemaking opens up new prospects for better alternatives to the present routine. Specifically, development and use of biological pacemakers could prove to be advantageous to the conventional approaches. RECENT FINDINGS: We review the current state of the art in gene and cell-based approaches to correct cardiac rhythm disturbances. These include genetic suppression of an ionic current, embryonic as well as adult stem cell therapies, novel synthetic pacemaker channels, and adult somatic cell-fusion approach. SUMMARY: Biological pacemaking can be achieved by modulating ionic currents by gene transfer or by delivering engineered pacemaker cells into normally quiescent myocardium. The present state of development is proof-of-concept; we are now working on reducing to practice a stable, reliable biological product as an alternative to electronic pacemakers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-54
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Opinion in Cardiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008


  • Arrhythmia
  • Biological pacemakers
  • Gene and cell therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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