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October 14, 2009

Overcoming barriers to successful heart cell transplants

During a heart attack, muscle cells that make up the heart’s tissue are lost permanently. This cell loss is one of the leading causes of heart failure. Although cell transplantation can result in modest improvements in cardiac function, several challenges remain, including how to increase the survival, integration and functionality of the transplanted cells within the host tissue.

New research published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences may provide strategies to overcome these challenges. Stem Cell Network investigator Dr. Peter Zandstra, in collaboration with Dr. Milica Radisic, and their labs at the University of Toronto have developed and tested a method that allows rapid screening of different cell types for their capacity to functionally integrate into heart tissue, and provides insights into the barriers that until now have prevented transplanted cells from adequately merging with the patient’s damaged heart tissue.

The research used an in vitro cell injection test-bed comprised of engineered heart tissue as a basis for their study. Three specific outcomes are reported by lead author Dr. Hannah Song:

  1. The model tissue/cell injection system can functionally distinguish between the cardiac tissue integration capabilities of different injected cell types; 
  2. The model tissue/cell injection system can be used to identify conditions wherein the survival and integration capacities of a specific cell population can be improved; and
  3. Pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiac progenitors can integrate and differentiate in model cardiac tissue, and these cells appear able to significantly improve engineered cardiac tissue function.

Of particular value to scientists is this method’s ability to significantly reduce the time and effort needed to screen known or new cell populations and drugs for their cardiac cell therapy potential, as well as new knowledge about barriers that should be considered during in vivo cardiac cell transplantation studies. In addition, the study suggests, for the first time, that pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiac progenitor cells may be effectively delivered for cardiac cell therapy.

The research was funded in part by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario.


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I really appreciated it. I like your way to get proposed the stem cell concept.
Thanks for blog.

Mark, thanks for your comments. From what we can see, there are four questions that you raise:

1. Regarding the use of adult stem cells to treat diabetes: much of the pioneering work in this area was done by Canadians, who developed the Edmonton Protocol (for more information on this, view the disease summary at http://www.stemcellnetwork.ca/index.php?page=type-1-diabetes&hl=eng). In general, there is consensus that adult stem cells can be used to treat diabetes. However, because diabetes is an autoimmune disease (in which the body essentially attacks itself), there is debate whether using your own stem cells could be a viable treatment. Thus, the stem cells may need to come from another person. The broader issue, which is also discussed in the link above, is a matter of obtaining a large enough supply of beta cells to successfully treat diabetes - scientists are
currently working to resolve this problem.

2. Regarding funding and profits: the Stem Cell Network is a not-for-profit funded by the Canadian federal government. Our mandate is to support research for the benefit of Canadians. We have patients involved on most of our committees to ensure complete transparency of processes, and Canada's leading health charities are among our partner organizations. The research we support and post is based on peer-reviewed science conducted at universities and hospitals across Canada - it conforms to rigorous international standards and is not influenced by the bottom line of industry or drug companies.

3. Regarding successful treatments in countries other than Canada and the United States: stem cell tourism is a subject of much discussion not just in North America, but in many countries around the world. Scientists are very open to proven methods of treatment, however, quite often the proof is lacking. There are many clinics that advertise fee-based stem cell treatments for a variety of ailments. Not all of these treatments are based on sound scientific evidence - for example, a Stem Cell Network-funded study of the online marketing of nineteen stem cell clinics found that the clinics' claims of safe, effective and routine therapies were not substantiated by published evidence (see
http://download.cell.com/cell-stem-cell/pdf/PIIS1934590908005730.pdf?intermediate=true). Patients considering these therapies are encouraged to review the relevant guidelines found in the Patient Handbook on Stem Cell Therapies, published by the International Society of Stem Cell Research (see http://www.isscr.org/clinical_trans/pdfs/ISSCRPatientHandbook.pdf).

4. Regarding the use of your own or other sources of stem cells: we are not quite sure of the point you are making with regard to cord blood. The scientific perspective is based on a belief that different diseases need different approaches for treatment - there is likely no single source of stem cells that will be the magic cure-all for disease, so different sources of stem cells are being investigated. The test-bed mentioned in this blog entry can be used to investigate any donor cell type.

you won't post the truth will you theres to musch money involve

this is about adult stem cells why do you hold these untruths on the site as there is facts that state that adult stem cells cure diabetes. its amoney maker as the industry plays it out and the drug companies get rich . this should be stopped as there is no immune problems when you use your own stem cells as an adult you done need
core blood as the site wold hve people believe and all the othe countries but canada and usa are treating it with great result s and here like your sit misslead the people

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