Monday, August 27, 2007

Stem Cells Help Rat Hearts Recover After Attack

Article abstract

Nature Biotechnology
Published online: 26 August 2007

Cardiomyocytes derived from human embryonic stem cells in pro-survival factors enhance function of infarcted rat hearts

Michael A Laflamme, Kent Y Chen, Anna V Naumova, Veronica Muskheli, James A FugateSarah, K Dupras Hans Reinecke, Chunhui Xu, Mohammad Hassanipour, Shailaja Police, Chris O'Sullivan, Lila Collins, Yinhong Chen, Elina Minami, Edward A Gill, Shuichi Ueno, Chun Yuan, Joseph Gold & Charles E Murry


Cardiomyocytes derived from human embryonic stem (hES) cells potentially offer large numbers of cells to facilitate repair of the infarcted heart.

However, this approach has been limited by inefficient differentiation of hES cells into cardiomyocytes, insufficient purity of cardiomyocyte preparations and poor survival of hES cell–derived myocytes after transplantation.

Seeking to overcome these challenges, we generated highly purified human cardiomyocytes using a readily scalable system for directed differentiation that relies on activin A and BMP4. We then identified a cocktail of pro-survival factors that limits cardiomyocyte death after transplantation.

These techniques enabled consistent formation of myocardial grafts in the infarcted rat heart. The engrafted human myocardium attenuated ventricular dilation and preserved regional and global contractile function after myocardial infarction compared with controls receiving noncardiac hES cell derivatives or vehicle.

The ability of hES cell–derived cardiomyocytes to partially remuscularize myocardial infarcts and attenuate heart failure encourages their study under conditions that closely match human disease.

Action Points

Explain to interested patients that human embryonic stem cells are regarded as a potential therapy for a range of illnesses and organ damage, since they can, in principle, develop into any type of cell.

Note that this study shows that -- in rats, after an experimentally induced heart attack -- human embryonic stem cells can be used to reduce the damage and improve function.

Caution that the research took place in animals and further study is needed.

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