Newly Discovered Cells Help Patch Up Scarred Hearts
Once damaged, a heart may lack regenerative properties to heal itself. However, an exciting new study by researchers at the University of Calgary has led to a discovery that allows the body to begin the necessary repairs.
Currently heart issues rank on top for cause of death, globally. Even when a patient survives a cardiac arrest, the organ struggles to get back to functioning normally. Moreover, scar tissue blocks the heart’s ability to distribute blood throughout the body.
Scientists have been researching ways on how to heal a patient’s heart. Bio-engineered scaffolding material and reprogrammed structural cells that differentiate into beating cells can facilitate the healing process. Varying stem cells can do different things – placental stem cells can work on regenerating scarred tissue, cardiac progenitor cells can regrow the outer heart layers, while exosomes can stimulate the organ to begin self-repair.
The Calgary team focused on the fluidic sac that envelops the heart. Its function is to keep the heart beating smoothly day in and day out, and it was here that the researchers discovered new cell types that could cause the heart to patch itself after a cardiac arrest.
Early in the study, the team used mice and found Gata6+ cells surrounding the scarred site after the attack. These macrophages began entering the heart tissue and remodeling the structure. When the fluid and sac were removed, scar tissue continued spreading.
The Calgary team mentioned that the study was conducted on mice exclusively, but says that the same specific cells can be found within the pericardial fluid in humans. This finding warrants further testing so patients with scarred hearts may have a chance to recover after a heart attack.
Co-lead author Paul Fedak states that their new cell discovery could hopefully open doors to new therapies and give hope to patients who are afflicted with heart disease. Fedak further mentions that the study warrants further examination for possible future therapies and innovative treatments.
To your health,
The Healing Miracle Team
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