Making the Heart Shine

Lasers may help prevent heart scarring following a stroke or heart attack

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Heart scarring after a stroke or heart attack makes it tough for the body to pump blood. A new "shining" technique that uses low-level lasers and bone marrow stem cells may help restore heart function.

Following such a cardiac event, the heart walls are dangerously thin and unable to heal themselves, though a new non-invasive procedure can help cut scarring by 80 percent.

"Ask your cardiologist about treatments after heart attacks."

Uri Oron, a professor in the department of zoology at Tel Aviv University's George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, developed the process called shining to aid the heart after it is injured from a lack of blood supply. The process is now ready for clinical trials.

Oron first tried harvesting stem cells from bone marrow and inserting them back into the heart muscle, but the success was limited.  After trial and error with lasers, he found that after a low-level laser was "shined" into a person's bone marrow, which is rich in stem cells, the stem cells began moving through the body's blood stream and responding to the heart's distress signals of harm.

After the stem cells were in the heart, they began healing, which reduced scarring and stimulated the growth of new arteries. The procedure also helped improve blood flow.

The method was performed on an animal model. He was able to follow the flow of stem cells through use of a fluorescent biomarker. Researchers observed an increase of stem cells within the injured areas of the heart. Test groups that also received the shining treatment had considerably higher concentrations of cells healing the injured heart.

Oron said the procedure is more effective than single cell treatments and also could be used to repair other organs in patients such as the kidney and liver.

The research was published in journal Lasers in Surgery and Medicine.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 11, 2011
Last Updated:
August 14, 2011