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Bone Marrow Stem Cells Reverse Heart Failure

By Daniel H. Rasolt

Posted: Friday, May 29, 2009

(Defeat Diabetes® News) -- Because of the lack of available hearts for transplantation, in addition to excessive medical costs, many people are living with dysfunctional, or "failing" hearts. A new stem cell treatment, involving injection of bone marrow stem cells into skeletal muscle, appears to help reverse heart failure by repairing cardiac tissue.
Bone marrow stem cells are types of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), meaning they can differentiate into a wide range of different cell types. For this reason, bone marrow stem cells have been suggested to have high potential for future stem cell therapies, and when injected into skeletal muscle, the procedure is far less invasive than other proposed stem cell therapies. Past stem cell therapy intended at reversing heart failure has relied solely on invasive, and potentially dangerous, surgery which "infuses stem cells directly into the heart."
Researchers injected these bone marrow stem cells into the skeletal muscle of animals with cardiac tissue damage. Dr. Techung Lee explains why skeletal muscle was utilized, instead of direct injection into the fragile heart: "Since skeletal muscle is the most abundant tissue in the body and can withstand repeated injection of large number of stem cells, we thought it would be a good method to deliver MSCs."
The results were fairly profound in the animal model. Heart cells, or myocytes, increased "two-fold," and further cardiac tissue damage was reduced by 60 percent. "Injecting MSCs or factors released by MSCs improved ventricular function, promoted myocardial regeneration, lessened apoptosis (cell death) and fibrotic remodeling, recruited bone marrow progenitor cells and induced myocardial expression of multiple growth factor genes," says Dr. Lee.
MSCs, in general, have enormous potential for treating numerous potentially fatal conditions. Among other things, they have been shown to help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, two factors closely linked to heart disease, as well as diabetes. Bone marrow stem cells, injected into skeletal muscle, appear to have this effect, and with further research, may become a revolutionary treatment for many conditions lacking in effective treatments.

Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Lee, Techung. Baker, Lois. University at Buffalo news release. May 2009.

Daniel H. Rasolt writes for Defeat Diabetes® News. Read more of his original content articles.

Copyright © 2009 Defeat Diabetes Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved.

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