Stem cells for cardiac repair; an active area of research

Credit: Stem Cells Published March 09, 2012 Lancet.com

A two-part Series published in Lancet gives insight into the use of stem cells in the new discipline of regenerative medicine.

Stem cells are widely researched for their therapeutic use. An important potential application of human stem cells, through a more complete understanding of the genetic and molecular controls of cell division and differentiation, is the generation of cells and tissues that could be used for cell-based therapies. The use of embryonic and adult-derived stem cells for cardiac repair is a particularly active area of research.

The first Series paper highlights insights gained from clinical trials of adult stem cells, together with fundamental scientific advances in cardiac stem cell and regenerative biology. New targets and strategies for regenerative therapies are being identified, including discoveries related to intrinsic cardiac regeneration, renewal factors that can trigger regeneration, and tissue-engineering technology. These discoveries are beginning to change the way investigators view the scientific and clinical position of cardiovascular regenerative therapy. Furthermore, advances in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine have established a foundation on which the functional replacement of whole organs and complex tissues such as skeletal muscle, trachea, and oesophagus seems possible.

The second paper discusses a novel approach for the replacement of complex tissues and whole organs involving the use of three-dimensional biological scaffolds made of allogeneic or xenogeneic extracellular matrix derived from non-autologous sources. End-stage organ failure is a key challenge for the medical community because of the ageing population and the severe shortage of suitable donor organs available. Equally, few therapeutic options are available for injuries to or congenital absence of complex tissues such as the trachea, oesophagus, or skeletal muscle. Three-dimensional extracellular matrix scaffolds populated with autologous cells have been used successfully for the repair and reconstruction of complex tissues and provide a promising basis for the engineering of whole organs and other tissues.

Towards regenerative therapy for cardiac disease
Leon M Ptaszek, Moussa Mansour, Jeremy N Ruskin, Kenneth R Chien

Engineered whole organs and complex tissues
Stephen F Badylak, Daniel J Weiss, Arthur Caplan, Paolo Macchiarini

Published March 09, 2012 Issue of The Lancet

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