Stem Cells used to treat heart damage

Written By Matt Schissler

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

 http://www.medpagetoday.com/Cardiology/Atherosclerosis/31476

The article link above reflects a phase three clinical trial showing how autologous cells could be used to regenerate heart tissue and muscle, thereby repairing the heart to a certain level after a heart attack.  This trial is very significant to the cord blood industry. Let me lay down some background on stem cells before discussion.

As mentioned in previous posts, I’ve talked about the two different forms of stem cells:

1. hematopoietic

2. regenerative

Hematopoietic cells have been used for years to re-populate an immune system that has been taxed by radiation or chemotherapy.  Simply, the radiation/chemo kills cancer, but it also kills the healthy immune system cells leaving the body weak, an unable to fight off the most mundane of diseases.

Regenerative cells are used to regenerate tissue.  Think of things like skin, bone, cartilage and in this case, muscle.

Again, I will be very simple here as this is not a medical blog, but a blog that bridges medical knowledge to those interested in a simple translation.

It has historically been believed that stem cells from the cord are mostly used for hematopoietic purposes, and widely believed that the cord blood cells would have little if any regenerative therapeutic applications. 

This link, if the trials are successful, show otherwise.

If autogolous cells can be used to repair muscle damage in the heart, it may open a whole new world of possibilities for cord blood stem cells.  Manipulating these cells to regenerate tissue will, over time, exponentially add clinical uses for cord blood, thereby affecting the thought process of more families to store their cells. 

As a good friend of mine likes to say on a daily basis:  “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.” 

Let’s eat.  We’ll be sure to follow the progress of autologous stem cells and the role they play in treating the effects of heart disease. 

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