Stem cells could help hearts repair themselves

20 November 2014

Injecting stem cells into damaged areas of the heart could help repair or regenerate injured tissue, a new study has found. The technique could help people who have suffered a heart attack, which sees the organ's muscles drastically weaken because of the trauma.

A team from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai administered stem cell factor (SCF) by gene transfer directly into the damaged tissue to see whether its could spark regenerative repair after an induced heart attack.

Presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2014, the study revealed that this SCF-gene transfer triggered the release of adult c-Kit positive (cKit+), which are cardiac stem cells that help repair injured parts of the heart.

On top of this, the team also found that gene therapy improved cardiac function and regeneration of heart tissue blood vessels, while heart muscle cell death and heart tissue scarring was reduced.

"It is clear that the expression of the stem cell factor gene results in the generation of specific signals to neighbouring cells in the damaged heart resulting in improved outcomes at the molecular, cellular, and organ level," said Dr Roger J. Hajjar, senior study author and director of the Cardiovascular Research Center at Mount Sinai. 

Posted by Philip Briggs​

 

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