Adult Stem Cell Therapy Blog

Progress & Issues in Stem Cell Heart Treatment

Friday, June 30, 2006 - Stem Cell Guru

A Press Release, issued on 28 June, from the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, a private, non-profit biomedical research institution gives readers an insight into to the work currently being done and the issues & challenges that lie ahead for researchers. (More details of the research also appear in the June 29 issue of Nature magazine.)

The PR titled: Progress being made in exploring potential use of stem cells to treat heart disease highlights the following reseach areas:

-The developmental processes within the heart that can be reproduced using pluripotent embryonic stem cells (these are early stem cells that can grow into almost any cell type)

-The cues that control multipotent cardiac stem cells (these stem cells, which have less developmental potential than embryonic stem cells, produce different types of cells that make up the heart)

-The ability of circulating progenitor cells (early-stage cells that have not yet differentiated, or specialized) to produce factors that are sufficient to invoke cell survival or repair responses in damaged heart cells

Challenges ahead for researchers include:

-Developing the ability not only to guide and expand stem cells into the cardiac lineage but also to repress alternative cell fates

-Developing methods for safe delivery and proper integration of stem cells within patients' heart tissue to avoid such complications as arrhythmias (irregular heart beat)

-Solving immunological issues surrounding rejection

The report ends with an upbeat quot from one of the reseachers involved:

"The adult heart seems to have reservoirs of cardiac progenitor cells--adult stem cells that are destined to become cardiovascular cells--that may be able to replace a slow loss of cells over a lifetime. The coming years will undoubtedly bring new developments and technologies to unravel these processes, leading to clinical applications of stem cell-based therapies for heart disease."


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