skip to primary navigationskip to content
 

New stem cell combination to help repair damaged heart

last modified Aug 03, 2019 08:21 AM

Dr Sanjay Sinha and others at the University of Cambridge and University of Washington have discovered a combination of stem cells that can help the heart to recover from the damage caused by a heart attack.

Scientists have been trying to use stem cells to repair damaged hearts for a number of years. Efforts have been unsuccessful so far, mainly because the vast majority of transplanted cells die within a few days.

In this breakthrough published in Nature Biotechnology, the teams have used supportive epicardial cells developed from human stem cells to help transplanted heart muscle cells live longer.

The researchers used 3D human heart tissue grown in the lab from human stem cells to test the cell combination, finding that the supportive epicardial cells helped heart muscle cells to grow and mature. They also improved the heart muscle cell’s ability to contract and relax.

When tested in rats with damaged hearts, the combination also allowed the transplanted cells to survive and restore lost heart muscle and blood vessel cells.
Researchers now hope to understand how the supportive epicardial cells help to drive heart regeneration. Understanding these key details will bring them one step closer to testing heart regenerative therapies in clinical trials.

Hundreds of thousands of people in the UK are living with debilitating heart failure, often as a result of a heart attack. During a heart attack, part of the heart is deprived of oxygen leading to death of heart muscle. This permanent loss of heart muscle as well as subsequent scarring combines to reduce the heart’s ability to pump blood around the body. 

People suffering from heart failure cannot regenerate their damaged hearts and the only cure is a heart transplant. Ultimately, these researchers hope that, by harnessing the regenerative power of stem cells, they will one day be able to heal human hearts using a patient’s own cells.

This research was partly-funded by the British Heart Foundation and the news item is a summary of the story published on their website.

Cambridge Cardiovascular logo - transparent

Logo design by Dr Ana-Mishel Spiroski and Dr Sarah Morgan.

 

We connect cardiovascular researchers in Cambridge.

Please follow us on Twitter for local news about research, events, funding calls, and open positions.

For inquiries about our research or the website, please contact Dr Tammy Dougan