Human cardiac stem cells have been engineered to repair damaged mouse heart tissue in a new study.
10 weeks after implanting the stem cells the scientists noted that tissue repair and function in the mice was twice that of the control group. This improvement lasted for 20 weeks or more.
“This study brings us one step closer to a clinical application for stem cell application,” said the study’s lead author, Sadia Mohsin, a post-doctoral research scholar at San Diego State University in California. “Since patients with heart failure are normally elderly, their cardiac stem cells aren’t very healthy. We were able to modify these stem cells, obtained from heart failure patients, to be healthier so that they could be transplanted into the heart and survive and thrive.”
The stem cells used were taken from people receiving mechanical assist device pumps for failing hearts. They were genetically engineered to express Pim-1, a naturally occurring protein that responds to heart damage. It is this potential to develop into various cell types and the ability to regenerate that makes stem cells so useful.
Dr. Roger Hajjar, who is a professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, said, “One of the main limitations of cell therapy for cardiovascular diseases has been the survival of cardiac progenitors cells implanted into the heart. In certain studies, more than 90 percent of these implanted cells die after injection into the diseased hearts, decreasing their ability to repair the hearts.”
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