For the first time, scientists at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC have discovered a unique population of adult stem cells derived from human muscle that could be used to treat muscle injuries and diseases such as heart attack and muscular dystrophy.
In a study using human muscle tissue, scientists in Children's Stem Cell Research Center - led by Johnny Huard, PhD, and Bruno Pault, PhD - isolated and characterized stem cells taken from blood vessels (known as myoendothelial cells) that are easily isolated using cell-sorting techniques, proliferate rapidly and can be differentiated in the laboratory into muscle, bone and cartilage cells.
These characteristics may make them ideally suited as a potential therapy for muscle injuries and diseases, according to Drs. Huard and P ault. Results of the study are published in the September issue of the journal Nature Biotechnology.
"Finding this population of stem cells in a human source represents a major breakthrough for us because it brings us much closer to a clinical application of this therapy," said Dr. Huard, the Henry J. Mankin Professor and vice chair for Research in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "To make this available as a therapy, we would take a muscle biopsy from a patient with a muscle injury or disease, remove the myoendothelial cells and treat the cells in the lab. The stem cells would then be re-injected into the patient to repair the muscle damage. Because this is an autologous transplant, meaning from the patient to himself, there is not the risk of rejection you would have if you took the stem cells from another source."
Working in dystrophic mice while searching for a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), Dr. Huard's laboratory team first identified a unique population of muscle-derived stem cells with the ability to repair muscle 8 years ago.
Dr. Pault, a professor in t
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Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh