Researchers at the Mayo Clinic, working together with Belgium experts, have demonstrated in lab tests that adult stem cells from bone marrow can repair and rebuild damaged heart tissue. The discovery was published yesterday in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Stem cells that have been isolated from patients generally have a limited capacity to repair heart tissue, explained the Mayo Clinic in a press release. However, the technology used in this particular study yielded significant results by programming these cells to acquire a profile similar to cardiac cells.
In order to carry out the tests, researchers obtained bone marrow-derived stem cells from patients with heart disease during coronary bypass surgery.
The Mayo Clinic reported that stem cells from two of the 11 individuals demonstrated an unusual capacity to repair heart tissue. The researchers then used techniques to introduce the same molecular signature into the stem cells of the other patients in order to “program” their capacity to repair heart tissue.
These kinds of cells, called Mesenchymal stem cells, were injected into rats with heart disease and resulted in significant recovery of heart function, as well as an improved survival rate after one year, in contrast with rats infused with stem cells not guided by researchers.
According to Andre Terzic of the Mayo Clinic, the main author of the study, “These findings provide proof-of-principle that "smart" adult stem cells have added benefit in repairing the heart.”