In a new study, researchers found a new way to help regenerate heart muscles using stem cells.
The finding may help develop new therapies for heart regeneration and benefit people with heart disease.
The research was conducted by Researchers at Duke-NUS Medical School and their collaborators over the world.
Currently, about 700,000 people survive heart attacks every year in the U.S. However, their heart tissue is often damaged and cannot be repaired.
This is because unlike many other cells in the body, once injured, heart cells cannot regenerate.
Recent studies have shown that this inability of regeneration in the heart is related to our thyroid hormones.
For example, one recent study from the University of California San Francisco found that thyroid hormones may halt heart cell regeneration.
It is known that the thyroid gland produces hormones that could regulate our body temperature, metabolic rate, and normal heart function.
But this hormone may also be responsible for shutting off cardiac cell division. This means heart tissue cannot repair itself after an injury.
Scientists have been trying to find techniques that can prompt different kinds of stem cells to differentiate into heart cell precursors and help rebuild heart muscles.
But their approaches have not been very successful.
To solve the problem, in the current study, the team examined a heart muscle associated protein called laminin.
They used this protein to promote the differentiation of human embryonic stem cells into heart cell precursors.
They found this method make stem cells differentiate into cardiovascular precursor cells, including cardiac muscle-like cells, fibroblast-like cells, and epithelial-like cells.
After that, the researchers reproduced their method with very similar results using two stem cell lines from two different labs using different techniques.
Moreover, they found the new method could repair damaged heart tissues and improve heart functions in animals.
The team suggests their new finding may help with the development of clinical-quality cardiovascular progenitor cells for heart regeneration in humans.
Future research will need to investigate the cell subpopulations that form with this technique to explore whether they can intensify new heart muscle growth in living animals.
The lead author of the study is Dr. Lynn Yap, a Senior Research Fellow at Duke-NUS’ Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disorders (CVMD) Programme
The study is published in the journal Cell Reports.
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