Heart Disease Stem Cell Therapies – Development Must Come From Several Specialties

Posted: March 10, 2012 at 1:17 am

Editor's Choice Academic Journal Main Category: Heart Disease Also Included In: Cardiovascular / Cardiology;Stem Cell Research Article Date: 09 Mar 2012 - 4:00 PST

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The paper's lead author, Kenneth Chien from Harvard University in the USA explains:

Until now, clinical trials have been based on heart attacks, chronic heart failure as well as dilated cardiomyopathy, but regardless of the fact that regenerative therapies that are based on various non-cardiac cell types seem to be safe, their efficacy has not yet been tested in a clinical trial.

However, possible new targets and treatment strategies are now emerging due to recent progress in cardiac stem cell research and regenerative biology.

Scientists used to think that the heart only has a minimal capacity for self-renewal and saw no prospect in reversing the loss of healthy heart muscle and function. This perception has been altered because of recent findings, such as the discovery of several distinct embryonic progenitor cell types of which some are found in the heart.

A certain number of these cells can be activated in people with cardiac injuries and are now targeted by scientists to develop novel cardiac regenerative therapeutics either by delivery of the cells, or by new methods that activate expansion and conversion of functioning heart cells.

For instance, clinical studies conducted a short while ago demonstrated that scar formation following a heart attack can be reduced by taking cells from the patient's own heart tissue. Even though it remains uncertain whether the delivered cells are indeed stem cells, these studies nevertheless demonstrate that this is a small, educational step towards the goal of utilizing the heart's potential for self-healing.

There is still a lot of work to be done. The complexity of the heart means that in order to restore its function requires more than just regenerating one cell type, it also means that the native structure of the heart needs to be recreated.

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Heart Disease Stem Cell Therapies - Development Must Come From Several Specialties

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