Recently, a new study that appears in the journal Nature, focuses on stem cell therapy and shows unexpected ways in which it may be helpful in recovering the health of the heart. Stem cell therapy has become popular in the past few years due to its benefits for a big number of health conditions.
Currently, there is major ongoing research on stem cells since they are responsible for the regeneration of new cells and may play a fundamental role in understanding the development of a variety of different diseases as well as their potential treatments.
Some of the recent discoveries of medical science include using stem cells as regenerative medicine as they can be turned into particular types of cells that may be able to replace tissues damaged as a result of health issues and thereby control the disease.
The therapy can be specifically useful for people with conditions such as type 1 diabetes, spinal cord injuries, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, cancer, burns, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, heart disease, and osteoarthritis.
At the moment, the most successful procedure that involves stem cell therapy is performing a bone marrow transplant. This surgical operation replaces the cells which have been damaged during chemotherapy by programmed stem cells. People are usually able to maintain and live a normal life after recovery from the surgery.
Furthermore, stem cell usage in clinical trials designed for testing the effectiveness, safety, and potential negative impact of new drugs. To do so, the stem cells can be programmed into becoming the type of cells that the drug aims to target.
The new study, which was led by Jeffery Molkentin who is a professor of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and the director of Molecular Cardiovascular Microbiology a Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, takes data from a study from the same journal, Nature, from the years 2014 which was conducted by the same medical team.
In the new paper, the team with Molkentin as the principal investigator found some unexpected results. There were two types of stem cells in the clinical trial – cardiac progenitor cells and bone marrow mononuclear cells.
The main objective of the new trial was to re-evaluate the results of the 2014 study, which showed that injecting c-kit positive heart stem in the heart does not help in the regeneration of cardiomyocytes, to see how the cell therapy can be made to be effective.
It was instead discovered that injecting an inert chemical called zymosan, which is designed particularly for inducing an innate immune response, or dead stem cells can also be beneficial for the recovery of heart as they may speed up the healing procedure.
Injecting either dead stem cells or zymosan led to a reduction in the development of cellular matrix connective tissue in the areas which had been damaged in the heart. In addition, the mechanical properties of the targeted scar also improved.
Another important finding was that chemical substances such as zymosan are required to be injected directly into the heart for optimum results. In previous clinical trials, direct injections were avoided for safety reasons.
Molkentin and the team state that follow-up studies and trials on this new discovery are imminent as they may be important for developing therapies in the future.