Each year over one million Americans suffer from a heart attack. A heart attack occurs when blood cannot adequately flow to the heart muscle, causing a starvation of oxygen. Also known as myocardial infarction (MI), each heart attack leaves long-term, permanent damage on the tissue of the heart.
If left untreated the suffocating tissue dies and leaves behind useless scarred tissue. These scars cannot be repaired once they appear, and without all the tissue that the heart normally has to function, the chances of another heart attack occurring significantly increases. However, thanks to the continued efforts of scientists and researchers we may soon be able to replace this scarred tissue. According to the online British journal: Scientific Reports, a team of Japanese scientists have used human-generated pluripotent stem cells to successfully create cardiac tissue sheets.
Kyoto University professor Jun Yamashita and his research team hope that this achievement will lead to new treatments in heart disease. Laboratory tests of the sheets have already shown promising results in lab mice. A three-layer sheet of cardiac tissue was transferred to nine mice with dead or damaged heart tissue caused by heart attacks. These sheets were made of differentiated iPS stems cells that would become cardiac muscle cells, vascular mural cells, and endothelial cells that line the interior surface of blood vessels. Four of the mice showed improved cardiac function because new blood vessels formed where the 1 cm diameter sheets were transplanted.
Yamashita is confident that there is real potential for this to heal the scarred tissue of those who have suffered from heart attacks. However, there is a concern for the development of cancer from the iPS stem cells. A small portion of the sheet was made up of unchanged cells, leading the team to believe that there is serious potential for cancer cells to form in their place in the long run. While more tests are required, the success of the sheets during recent tests gives the team hope for the future of the project.
To learn more about the newest innovations and discoveries occurring in the cardiac health community, or for tips to show your patients how to can keep their heart healthy and strong, check out the Medicomp Inc. blogs today.