Stem Cells to Enhance Cardiac Repair, Reverse Injury

Delivering stem cells directly into damaged heart muscle after a heart attack may help repair and regenerate injured tissue, according to a study.

“Our discoveries offer insight into the power of stem cells to regenerate damaged muscle after a heart attack,” said lead study author Kenneth Fish from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

However, in the study, researchers administered stem cell factor (SCF) by gene transfer shortly after inducing heart attacks in pre-clinical models — directly into damaged heart tissue — to test its regenerative repair response.

A novel gene transfer delivery system induced the recruitment and expansion of adult cardiac stem cells to injury sites that reversed heart attack damage. In addition, the gene therapy improved cardiac function, decreased heart muscle cell death, increased regeneration of heart tissue blood vessels and reduced the formation of heart tissue scarring.

“It is clear that the expression of the stem cell factor gene results in the generation of specific signals to neighbouring cells in the damaged heart resulting in improved outcomes at the molecular, cellular and organ level,” explained Roger J. Hajjar, director of the cardiovascular research centre at Mount Sinai.

The findings were presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2014 in Chicago.

(With inputs from IANS)

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