Novel Stem Cell Method Discovered for Cardiac Repair

February 24th, 2012
Novel Stem Cell Method Discovered for Cardiac Repair

Researchers at the University of California South Francisco Medical Centre are pioneering new methods for using stem cells to repair cardiac tissue damaged through heart-attack.

Tested through UCSF’s Translational Cardiac Stem Cell Program, the findings of the study aim to promote healthier cardiac function, rejuvenate blood vessels, reduce scarring and lower the dangers of cardiac tissue rejection. Research contributions gained through this program build on prior research in cardiac progenitor cell therapy.

The Translational Cardiac Stem Cell Program at UCSF is directed by senior author Yerem Yeghiazarians, M.D. , who reports that “Most of the previous research has focused on a different subset of cardiac progenitor cells. These novel cardiac precursor cells appear to have great therapeutic potential.” Instead of focusing on c-kit cells within the heart, this new research uses Sca-1+ cells in the cardiosphere. The programme is designed to source treatment solutions for people suffering from cardiovascular disease.

The study involves harvesting and isolating Sca-1+ stem enriched in Islet (Isl-1) expressing cardiac precursors from the heart tissue of mid-aged mice after heart-attack. These cells are able to distinguish into organ-producing cells, such as endothelial, muscle and cardiomyocyte cells, all present in the human heart.

Another aspect of the study focuses on duplicating the cells of mice and implanting them within heart tissue of other mice with a similar genetic make-up which have experienced heart attack. Results showed that the engrafted cells enhanced cardiac function through stimulating blood vessel growth and cell differentiation, restoring endothelial, muscle and cardiomyocyte cells within the heart.

Researchers are delighted with the results because if cardiac-type cells can be harvested, sustained and isolated after heart attack in mice and then returned to the mice, stimulating repair of the heart organ, human beings may also benefit from these methods.

Senior scientist and first author, Jianqin Ye, Ph.D., M.D., at UCSF’s Translational Cardiac Stem Cell Program explains the potential of the findings for ventricular biopsy. It could be a safe method to obtain cells from all four chambers of the heart in patients with cardiovascular disease who are still alive. The goal is to restore healthy cardiac function in patients with cardiomyopathy and severe cardiac failure. Being harvested from the same patient receiving the stem cells reduces risk of rejection and promotes successful therapy.

The research enhances strategies in development for treating patients with heart disease. “Heart disease, including heart attack and heart failure, is the number one killer in advanced countries. It would be a huge advance if we could decrease repeat hospitalizations, improve the quality of life and increase survival”, reports senior author Yerem Yeghiazarians.

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