In a new study, researchers reported a simple method to improve the quality of repair after a heart attack.
The research was conducted by a team from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
The heart cannot regenerate muscle tissue after a heart attack has killed part of the muscle wall.
That dead tissue can strain the surrounding muscle, leading to lethal heart enlargement.
Previous research has shown that doctors can aid the failing heart by using pluripotent stem cells to grow heart muscle cells outside of the body, and then injecting those muscle cells or adding a patch made from those cells, at or near the site of the dead heart tissue.
This approach could lead to moderate improvement in the pumping ability of the heart’s left ventricle.
However, the ability of the delivered cells to remuscularize the heart and improve cardiac function depends on the quality of those cells.
In the new study, the researchers reported a simple method to improve the quality of the delivered cells.
They found that this method—tested in a mouse heart attack model—doubled the engraftment rate of the injected stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes.
The method to remove DNA-damaged cells may have wider application and improve the performance of a failing heart.
The team says the method can be applied to any type of stem cells, though selection conditions would need to be optimized and evaluated.
Other stem cell approaches for diseases such as neurodegenerative diseases, brain, and spinal cord injuries, and diabetes might benefit from adopting this method.
One author of the study is Ramaswamy Kannappan, Ph.D.
The study is published in the journal Circulation.
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