-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
MONDAY, July 18 (HealthDay News) -- Genetically engineered human
cardiac stem cells helped repair damaged heart tissue in mice,
according to a new study.
And, the researchers revealed, 10 weeks after the stem cells
were implanted, tissue repair and function in these mice doubled
that of control animals. They also noted the improvement lasted for
at least 20 weeks.
"This study brings us one step closer to a clinical application for stem cell therapy," the study's lead author, Sadia Mohsin, post-doctoral research scholar at San Diego State University in California, said in a news release from the American Heart Association. "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."
Unlike other cells, stem cells can regenerate and have the
potential to develop into multiple types of tissue. In conducting
the study, the researchers used cardiac stem cells from patients
receiving mechanical assist device pumps for failing hearts. The
stem cells were genetically engineered to express a protein, known
as Pim-1, which naturally occurs in response to heart damage.
The genetically engineered Pim-1 and non-modified human cardiac
cells were implanted into the mice that had been induced to have a
heart attack so researchers could compare the two groups.
Using molecular technology, the researchers also attached
another fluorescent green protein derived from jellyfish so the
Pim-1 was more easily identified.
The study authors concluded that the application could help in
the advancement of stem cell therapy.
Commenting on the study, Dr Roger Hajjar, professor of medicine,
cardiology, and professor of gene and cell medicine 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."
In this new study, the researchers showed that by expressing the
gene Pim1, the team was "able to enhance the reparative capacity of
these cells. This is an important study addressing an unmet need in
the field of stem cell therapy."
While the study results are encouraging, experts note that
research involving animals frequently doesn't lead to medical
advances that benefit people.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health provides more information
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