It is now possible to repair the damages in the heart from the use of stem cells.
French researchers have used embryonic stem cells from mice to repair heart damage in sheep, reporting their results in a study in this week's issue of The Lancet.
Heart failure is a major cause of death in developed countries, occurring when cells within the heart are damaged after a heart attack. Before now, embryonic stem cells had been used to limit the development of heart failure in rodents.
In the current study, researchers from Center National de la Recherche Scientifique, Montpellier, France, had reported that embryonic stem cells from mice could also be successfully transplanted into larger mammals to regenerate damaged heart cells. In their study, 9 sheep given transplanted mouse embryonic stem cells had healthier heart tissue after one month compared with 9 sheep that did not receive stem-cell transplantation (the control group). This strengthens the possibility that embryonic stem cells could one day be used to repair heart cells in humans. Concerns that the cells might be rejected, or might develop into tumors were not realized.
The authors conclude: "Our results provide an additional proof of concept for the cardiac regenerating capacity of embryonic stem cells, and unravel new perspectives pertaining to the therapeutic use of these cells in different individuals and even, perhaps, different species."
Source: Newswise, The Lancet