Cardiac stem cells for heart patients

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(KTSF)

(KTSF by Sean Au)

A four year study by UCSF discovered a new way to help heart attack patients with the use of cardiac stem cells. The study has shown that stem cells obtained from the heart can be used to regenerate more such cells to be later injected into the hearts of patients to improve the functions of the heart.

Heart disease is the number one killer in America. American Heart Association estimated that 785,000 Americans will have a new heart attack this year and 470,000 will have a recurrent attack.

The heart of a patient who has suffered from a heart attack will have a substantial amount of dead cardiac cells. This scarring of the heart causes the heart to lose its ability to contract. Some researchers have been using stem cells from the bone marrow or the embryo to regenerate cells to be injected into the heart to stimulate cell growth in the heart, but this method is not ideal as it may cause rejection or tumor growth.

UCSF researchers started to extract stem cells from mice in a study four years ago. They were able to isolate the cardiac cells and cultivate them. These cultivated cells, when injected into the hearts of the mice were able to regenerate new cells. Researchers are also able to extract cardiac cells from any of the four heart chambers, and from a small piece of heart muscle tissue the size of a pea.

UCSF researcher Jianqin Ye, PhD says, “If this technique becomes successful in humans, these cells can survive long term, regenerate, and minimize scarring, leading to the improvement of the cardiac functions of the heart.”

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