Stem Cell Therapy Could Help Heart Attack Sufferers - Study
By Jude Chukwuemeka
A new Science Daily report shows stem cell therapy is able to help hearts recover from a heart attack, although not for the biological reasons originally proposed two decades ago.
The study, just concluded yesterday, claims that injecting living or even dead heart stem cells into the injured hearts of mice triggers an acute inflammatory process, which in turn generates a wound healing-like response to enhance the mechanical properties of the injured area.
This works entirely differently from the way that it was previously proposed to work - not by replacing damaged or dead heart cells as initially proposed.
According to Jeffery Molkentin, PhD, principal investigator, director of Molecular Cardiovascular Microbiology a Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and a professor of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), "The innate immune response acutely altered cellular activity around the injured area of the heart so that it healed with a more optimized scar and improved contractile properties. The implications of our study are very straight forward and present important new evidence about an unsettled debate in the field of cardiovascular medicine."
For it to work, Molkentin and his colleagues said that stem cells and other therapeutic substances like zymosan have to be injected directly into the hearts surrounding the area of infarction injury. This is in contrast to most past human clinical trials that for patient safety reasons simply injected stem cells into the circulatory system.
Looking to the Future, Molkentin said he and other collaborating scientists will follow up the findings by looking for ways to leverage the healing properties of the stem cells and compounds they tested, and they will test a theory that harnesses the selective healing properties of macrophages. This includes polarizing or biologically queuing macrophages to only have healing-like properties.