A novel way to improve survival and recovery rate after a heart attack was reported in the journal Stem Cell Research by scientists at Singapore's Institute of Medical Biology (IMB) and Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI) and The Netherlands' University Medical Center Utrecht.
This method, developed in laboratory research with pigs, is the first non-cell based therapeutic application of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). It entails using secretions from stem cells.
In their studies with pigs, the researchers found that the administration of secretion from stem cells minimized heart injury by enhancing reperfusion therapy (angioplasty and cardiac bypass surgery) and reducing tissue death by another 60%.
Heart function was also markedly improved, the scientists report in the paper, published in the June 2008 issue of the journal.
By demonstrating the efficacy of this secretion in an experimental pig model, currently the best approximation to a human heart attack patient undergoing reperfusion therapy, the researchers say that they have addressed the longstanding problem of reperfusion injury in the most clinically relevant experimental setting.
"Using secretion instead of cells allows us to circumvent many highly intractable problems such as tumour formation, immune compatibility, cell viability, delivery, costs and timeliness," said IMB'S Dr Lim Sai Kiang, who leads the Singapore-The Netherlands collaboration.
Unlike the more common approach of directly administering stem cells for therapy, this new method carries negligible risk of tumour formation or rejection by the body.
In the pig research model, this approach minimised heart injury after a heart attack, a particularly important consideration since the heart has a limited ability to regenerate.
The research was carried out on pigs because it is the closest animal approximation to the human heart in terms of
|Contact: Cathy Yarbrough|
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore