Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Stem Cells, Cellular Therapy & Biobanking
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Helping the Heart Help Itself

Published: Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Last Updated: Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Bookmark and Share
An article published in the latest edition of the journal Cell Stem Cell, describes how research by the Harvard Stem Cell Institute points to new use for stem cells.

Human trials of stem cell therapy for post-heart attack patients have raised as many questions as they have answered - because while the patients have tended to show some improvement in heart function, the stem cells do not appear to turn into heart cells or even survive.

The stem cells being transfused into the patients may not be developing into new heart muscle, but they still appear to be beneficial. Some stem cells in the bone marrow, called c-kit+ cells, appear capable of stimulating adult stem cells already present in the heart to repair the damaged tissue.

What this means, in effect, is that the c-kit+ stem cells are functioning much as a drug might, stimulating the heart’s own repair mechanism.

“It seems that heart muscle is being made from heart stem cells that are already there,” said Richard T. Lee, who led the new study. Lee, a Harvard Medical School professor of cardiology at BWH and leader of the HSCI Cardiovascular Disease Program, notes that “there have been some adult stem cells found in the heart, but it hasn’t been clear under what circumstances they are active, and how to turn them on.

“The study explains why some forms of cell therapy are helping the heart even though the cells themselves don’t survive inside the heart,” Lee said.

Up to this point, researchers working in regenerative medicine have envisioned two basic roles for stem cells: They can be used as treatments, to be given to patients to directly replace lost cells and repair damage; and they can be used to model diseases in the laboratory, and serve as targets for traditional drug discovery and initial testing.

The Lee paper suggests a third role for these ubiquitous cells: At least in the heart, they can apparently stimulate other stem cells to repair damaged tissue. In a heart attack, heart muscle dies, reducing the heart’s ability to pump blood throughout the body. When that damage reaches a certain point, congestive heart failure, which is as lethal as many metastatic cancers, sets in.

Results thus far from studies in humans - Lee’s study was done in mice - “have shown a small improvement in heart function, but a big enough improvement so there is potential to prevent heart failure,” Lee said.

Lee said that the results in the mice, which had lost about 40 percent of heart function -the equivalent of a major human heart attack - showed “much better heart function when the stem cells were delivered.”

Ideally, Lee said, researchers would like to find a chemical that would, like the c-kit+ stem cells, stimulate adult cardiac cells to repair heart attack damage.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,600+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,800+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Potential Treatment for Muscular Dystrophy
A new method for producing muscle cells could offer a better model for studying muscle diseases, such as muscular dystrophy, and for testing potential treatment options.
Wednesday, August 05, 2015
Zebrafish Reveal Drugs that may Improve Bone Marrow Transplant
Compounds boost stem cell engraftment; could allow more matches for patients with cancer and blood diseases.
Monday, July 27, 2015
Promising Stem Cell Therapy
Animal model of breast-to-brain cancer spread allows testing of therapeutic-cell approach.
Monday, April 27, 2015
Brains or Skin?
Researchers identify a vital protein that can determine head and brain development.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Keeping Embryonic Stem Cells in Suspended Animation
Research reveals new strategy to control cellular identity and fate.
Monday, October 27, 2014
Giant Leap Against Diabetes
Ability to produce embryonic stem cells will allow researchers to push faster toward cure.
Friday, October 10, 2014
Improving Cord Blood Transplants
Researchers have published initial results of a Phase Ib human clinical trial of a therapeutic that could improve the success of blood stem cell transplantation.
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Stem Cell Researchers Produce New Model of Leukemia Development
Two former Stanford University postdoctoral fellowsnow have the answer to why patients with leukemia stop producing healthy blood cells.
Friday, August 02, 2013
Developing Cancer Drugs
Researchers find therapeutic potential in ‘undruggable’ target.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Study uses Stem Cells to Study Variants of Parkinson’s Disease
Personalized medicine closer to reality.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Stem Cell Transplant that 'Rebuilds Brain Circuitry'
A brain transplant of stem cells has worked in mice in a breakthrough that signals new hope for conditions from autism to Parkinson’s disease.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Scientific News
Snapshot Turns T Cell Immunology on its Head
New research may have implications for 1 diabetes sufferers.
Developing a Gel that Mimics Human Breast for Cancer Research
Scientists at the Universities of Manchester and Nottingham have been funded to develop a gel that will match many of the biological structures of human breast tissue, to advance cancer research and reduce animal testing.
Lung Repair and Regeneration Gene Discovered
New role for hedgehog gene offers better understanding of lung disease.
Restoring Vision with Stem Cells
Age-related macular degeneration (AMRD) could be treated by transplanting photoreceptors produced by the directed differentiation of stem cells, thanks to findings published today by Professor Gilbert Bernier of the University of Montreal and its affiliated Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital.
The Age of Humans Controlling Microbes
Engineered bacteria could soon be used to detect environmental toxins, treat diseases, and sustainably produce chemicals and fuels.
Gene Expression: A Snapshot of Stem Cell Development
New genes found that regulate development of stem cells.
Tissue-Engineered Colon from Human Cells
A study by scientists at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has shown that tissue-engineered colon derived from human cells is able to develop the many specialized nerves required for function, mimicking the neuronal population found in native colon.
Tension Helps Heart Cells Develop Normally in the Lab
Stanford engineers have uncovered the important role tension plays in growing heart cells out of the body.
Urine Excretion From Stem Cell-Derived Kidneys
Researchers report a strategy for enabling urine excretion from kidneys grown from stem cells.
Stem Cell Research Hints at Evolution of Human Brain
Researchers at UC San Francisco have succeeded in mapping the genetic signature of a unique group of stem cells in the human brain that seem to generate most of the neurons in our massive cerebral cortex.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,600+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,800+ scientific videos