A new study finds that stem cell therapy could help the heart in recovering from a heart attack. The study published in Nature journal, and conducted on 27th November, reveals the distinct action of heart stem cells. The findings of the study refute the biological claims related to heart stem cells proposed two decades ago. These claims have become the basis of ongoing clinical trials. The study finds that the heart stem cells do not replace damaged or dead heart cells for therapy. On the contrary, even dead heart stem cells can generate a healing-response in individuals.
Research Methodology and Key Findings
The researchers injected dead cells into injured hearts of mice, and witnessed the onset of an inflammatory process. Furthermore, this activity enhances the mechanical properties of the injured area to accelerate the process of healing. The new research builds on the findings of a 2014 research conducted by the same team.
The healing process of the heart is supported by the macrophage cells belonging to the immune system. The immune response of the body affects cellular activity around the injured area. This in turn helps in optimizing the process of healing and improving the contractile properties of the heart. The researchers consider this study as a landmark in the domain of cardiovascular research. Furthermore, it answers several questions pertaining to heart health and cardiovascular diseases.
Meanwhile, two types of stem cells are currently used for clinical trials- cardiac progenitor cells and marrow mononuclear cells. The research worked well with both of these types. Moreover, the researchers saw favourable healing response in the heart even after injecting dead cells into it. Therefore, the new research could become the basis of several other studies in the coming years.