(RxWiki News) A patient's own stem cells may be the key to repairing the heart after a heart attack. Though the cells might be scarce, in a twist that sounds like science fiction, they can be grown using stem cells from umbilical cord blood.
It is now possible to take rare stem cells from human cord blood and expand them up to seven-fold into cardiac muscle cells. The finding is important because of the scarcity of such cells, and such cells obtained from adult patients after a heart attack may be less functional.
"Call 9-1-1 if you suspect a heart attack."
Raimondo Ascione, study leader and chair of Cardiac Surgery & Translational Research in the School of Clinical Sciences at the University of Bristol, said the research represents a significant advancement and overcomes the technical hurdle of deriving cardiac muscle-type cells from human cord blood.
He said the finding suggests that future stem cells derived from cord blood bank facilities could be used for repair after a heart attack.
The study focused on a rare type of stem cells called CD133+, which is also present in adult bone marrow. Evidence suggests these cells may help regenerate the damaged heart muscle.
“There has been interest for some time in the potential use of blood from the umbilical cord as a source of stem cells for therapy in a variety of diseases," said Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation. "This study has shown for the first time that it’s possible to turn cord blood stem cells into cells that look like heart muscle, in the lab. The results are encouraging, but there are still lots of questions to answer before we’ll know whether these cells can be used successfully for heart repair in patients.”
The clinical trial, funded by the British Heart Foundation, was recently published in Stem Cell Reviews & Reports.