Stem cell study paves way for new heart treatments: New Zealand scientists

WELLINGTON — New Zealand scientists said Friday they have conducted a study that could provide a breakthrough in treating heart patients with their own stem cells.

The University of Otago study was the first to compare the cardiac repair potential of three types of stem cells from an individual patient.

In recent years, the approach of harvesting and transplanting a patient’s own stem cells to help heart repair had garnered much interest internationally, but determining the best cell type to use remained a large challenge, said study leader Dr. Rajesh Katare.

The researchers used cultured stem cells from 14 patients undergoing coronary artery bypass graft surgery to compare the function of three types of adult stem cells in repairing damaged heart cells.

Two were from the patient’s heart itself — the left ventricle and the right atrium — while the third was from the circulating blood of the same patient.

They found that the right atrial stem cells had the greatest protective effect on heart muscle cells, while the ventricular stem cells were the most effective at promoting the formation of new blood vessels, Katare said in a statement.

The third cell type, endothelial progenitor cells, was equally effective at promoting blood vessel growth, but its potential to be cultivated outside of the body and to migrate to the site of injury in heart cells was found to be significantly lower.

If the findings could be replicated in clinical trials, it would suggest a need for personalized stem cell therapy, depending on the type of heart disease present in a patient, he said. PNA/