Good things come in pairs — even stem cells. Researchers in Hong Kong recently developed an integrated approach using 2 types of stem cells to rejuvenate the muscle cells and vascular system of the heart.
Heart attacks result in permanent damage to heart muscle cells and the formation of scar tissue. Options for severe heart failure are limited and a heart transplant is only done when nothing else will work. But it’s also costly, risky, and not many donors. Stem cell therapy may provide a therapeutic alternative to heal the heart and promote heart health.
A Dual Stem Cell Treatment Approach
Dr. Ban Kiwon at the University of Hong Kong used stem cells to promote cardiac generation. He employed 2 major types of stem cells in this dual approach that not only rejuvenated muscle cells but also targeted the vascular systems of the heart.
The two types of stem cells included the mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) — derived from human bone marrow — and cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs) — derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells.
The research findings were published in the scientific journal Nature Communications, titled “Dual stem cell therapy synergistically improves cardiac function and vascular regeneration following myocardial infarction.”
A First for Heart Science
Though previous studies highlighted the potential of either hiPSC-CMs or hMSCs on myocardial infarction, this is the first to explore the effects of both simultaneously in heart regeneration.
“Heart is an organ composed of cardiac muscles and blood vessels, where vessels are essential to supply oxygen and energy to the muscles,” Dr Kiwon explained in a press release. “Since both cardiac muscles and vasculatures would be severely damaged following MI, the therapeutic strategies should focus on comprehensive repair of both at the same time. But so far the strategies only focus on either one.”
Treatment Could Be Used for Other Organs
A similar approach could also be used to heal other organs in the body.
“We believe this novel dual approach can potentially provide translational and clinical benefit to the field of cardiac regeneration,” Dr Kiwon said. “Based on the same principle, the protocol may also be utilized for repairing other organs including brain, liver and pancreas in which multiple types of stem cells are co-existing.”
More Studies Planned
Follow-up studies are planned in larger animal models including pigs.
The researchers believe “this novel dual approach can potentially provide translational and clinical benefit to the field of cardiac regeneration,” Edgy Labs reported.