Adult monkey stem cells to the rescue of the human heart
Heart failure continues to kill many people, with this serious cardiovascular condition affecting almost one million French citizens, although lifestyle changes and medication can be effective in extending the life span of some patients. Meanwhile, researchers from Japan’s Shinshu University have just published details of a revolutionary new approach to this illness in the famous journal, NATURE.
Japanese scientists have decided to explore the possibilities of stem cells which are able to self-renew and regenerate tissue. This avenue has already been looked at by French researchers, who used human embryonic stem cells, rather than the adult monkey stem cells selected by the Japanese with a view to reducing the likelihood of the transplant being rejected. These cells were taken from a single adult monkey and then injected into five other monkeys suffering from heart failure. Three months later, and an improvement in the health of the monkeys having received the transplant could be seen. The adult stem cells had integrated perfectly into the damaged cardiac muscle tissue and improved cardiac contractility. Just one drawback was noted, that of an irregular heartbeat, although this does not have a negative impact on life expectancy in this case.
This significant advance in stem cell therapy could pave the way for new approaches to treating those suffering from heart failure, whose only permanent cure currently lies in a heart transplant.
Let’s hope that Japanese and French researchers can combine forces to find a definitive cure for this very distressing cardiovascular condition thanks to the precious stem cells of monkeys.
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