A new way to repair damaged tissue by transforming human scar cells into blood vessel cells may have been identified by scientists.
The method appeared to improve blood flow, oxygenation, and nutrition to areas in need.
Cardiovascular scientists at Houston Methodist, with colleagues at Stanford University and Cincinnati Children's Hospital, learned that fibroblasts cells that causes scarring and are plentiful throughout the human body could be coaxed into becoming endothelium, an entirely different type of adult cell that forms the lining of blood vessels.
John Cooke, Houston Methodist Research Institute Department of Cardiovascular Sciences Chair, said that this was the first time that trans-differentiation to a therapeutic cell type has been accomplished with a small molecules and protein.
The regenerative medicine approach provides proof-of-concept for a small molecule therapy that could one day be used to improve the healing of cardiovascular damage or other injuries, he further added.
The researchers reported to Circulation that about 2 percent of the fibroblasts were transformed from fibroblasts into endothelial cells, a rate comparable to what other research groups have accomplished using viruses and gene therapy.
But Cooke mentioned that preliminary, as-yet-unpublished work by his group suggested that they might be able to achieve transformation rates as high as 15 percent.
However, more animal model studies are needed before the group begins clinical trials.
The study will be published in the issue of Circulation.