Researchers from King's College London discovered that a group of stem cells residing in the heart can be used to repair damaged muscle tissues that cause heart failure.
Heart Failure is the cause of 287,000 deaths a year with over 5 million Americans currently living with some form of heart diseases. Approximately, 550,000 new cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year with this disease being the leading cause of death in the country. According to a CDC report, heart failure is the first-listed diagnosis in 875,000 hospitalizations, and the most common diagnosis in hospital patients of age 65 and older.
In a new study, researchers from King's College London discovered that a group of stem cells residing in the heart can be used to repair damaged muscle tissues due to a heart attack.
Researchers of the study found that when these cells were removed from the heart, it was unable to repair itself after damage occurred. However, when the stem cells were re-injected into the heart, it repaired itself leading to complete cellular, anatomical and functional heart recovery.
The reinjected cells automatically zero in on the damaged heart and start the repair process. This discovery could lead to the development of less-invasive treatments and even early prevention of heart failure in the future.
'Understanding the role and potential of cardiac stems cells could pave the way for a variety of new ways to prevent and treat heart failure," Dr Georgina Ellison, the first author of the study said in a press release. "These new approaches involve maintaining or increasing the activity of cardiac stem cells so that muscle tissue in the heart can be renewed with new heart cells, replacing old cells or those damaged by wear and tear."
Currently, there are many treatments available that treat the underlying cause of heart failure including coronary heart disease, heart attack and blood pressure. These treatments include medicines, surgery and lifestyle changes. However, the only treatment for heart failure is a heart transplant.
'In a healthy heart the quantity of cardiac stem cells is sufficient to repair muscle tissue in the heart," Professor Bernardo Nadal-Ginard, the study's corresponding author explained. "However, in damaged hearts many of these cells cannot multiply or produce new muscle tissue. In these cases it could be possible to replace the damaged cardiac stem cells or add new ones by growing them in the laboratory and administering them intravenously."