In cardiovascular medicine, regenerative therapies are of great importance. Most cardiovascular disorders, including ischemic heart disease and cardiomyopathy, are associated with the loss of functioning cardiomyocytes. The heart has a deficient regenerative capacity and cannot replace the cardiomyocytes once they are lost. Promising results were observed for heart regeneration when stem cell-derived cardiac cells were used.
Research paper link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3708059/
Stem cell therapy, where the procedure uses stem cells, is also known as regenerative medicine, facilitates the repair response to diseased, dysfunctional, or wounded tissue. It is the next takeover of organ transplantation as this therapy uses cells, which are small in quantity, instead of donor organs. These stem cells specialize into different types of cells, such as heart muscle cells, blood cells, or nerve cells.
The specialized stem cells prepared in the lab can be implanted into a person. For example, if the individual has a heart disease due to deterioration of the muscles, the cells could be inserted into the heart’s muscle. The healthy heart muscle cells transplanted will multiply and repair the structure of the heart muscle.
Cardiovascular diseases are the world’s leading cause of death among men and women, affecting more than 17 million lives annually. Conditions such as hypertension, chronic inadequate blood flow to the heart muscle, coronary artery disease, and heart attacks result from the sudden collapse of blood vessels supplying oxygen to the heart. This can be a result of the destruction of heart muscle cells, known as cardiomyocytes.
Cardiomyocytes are the beating muscle cells that make up the atria, the chambers in which the heart enters the blood, and the ventricles in which the heart pumps blood. In cellular therapies for heart disease, cardiomyocytes are currently being targeted.
Heart and its stem cells.
The main idea of using stem cells for the heart is to increase the treatment’s durability and focus on the root problem as the traditional and current procedures are symptom-focused treatments.
From the following sources, researchers may grow cardiomyocytes in the laboratory:
- Embryonic stem (ES) cells, embryo-derived cells that can offer ascent to all the body cells.
- Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, adult tissue-specific cells that are reprogrammed in the laboratory to function like embryonic stem cells and possess the ability to become any cell in the body, including cardiomyocytes.
The current approach of stem cell therapy for heart
Researchers are transplanting various stem cell and progenitor cell forms into patients to rebuild the weakened heart muscle. Either adult stem cells, which are found in bone marrow, fat, or the heart itself, or pluripotent (ES or iPS) cells have been used predominantly in these strategies.
New therapy could eventually restore and rebuild damaged heart tissue using stem cells that have the ability to develop into several types of heart cells. It must be noted that this is still a highly controversial theory. Initially, scientists believed that the stem cells regenerate the myocardium by differentiating into cardiac cells and blood vessels. However, this theory has been supplanted by the idea that the transplants stem cells release growth factors and other molecules that stimulate blood vessel formation or promote cardiac stem cells to repair the damage caused by cardiovascular disease.
Last February, The Lancet reported that researchers treated 17 heart attack patients with an injection of stem cells taken from their own hearts. The size of scar tissue had shrunk by around 50% one year after the operation.
Future of stem cells on heart diseases.
Pluripotent stem cell-derived therapies have recently been used for the first time in clinical trials. Patches of stem cell-derived human heart muscle cells were transplanted onto the surface of collapsed hearts.
Research shows that cardiomyocytes derived from pluripotent stem cells are advanced to form beating human heart muscle cells that release the requisite signals and replace lost muscles caused due to heart attack. New advances in cardiac regeneration therapy are also conducive to the advancement of established and efficient models of heart failure regeneration care.