HOUSTON, Oct. 27, 2008 For those of us trained to read nutrition labels, conventional wisdom tells us that fat isn't good for the heart. But a team of University of Houston researchers has set out to use fat cells to beef up heart muscles damaged by heart attack and they're using an out-of-this-world device to do it.
While associate professor Stanley Kleis and his research team at the Cullen College of Engineering's department of mechanical engineering aren't advocating a fried-food free-for-all, they do see the promise of using adipose-derived stromal cells (ADSCs), which are found in fatty tissue, as a therapy for heart attack patients.
When a patient has a heart attack, the heart cells do not get enough oxygen-rich blood, and some of them die, leaving behind damaged tissue. The ADSCs are a bit like stem cells, because they have the potential to develop into different types of cells, and they can produce chemicals that may protect or rejuvenate heart muscles.
"If we can show this conclusively, then we can develop a procedure that doctors can use to inject the cells into a heart attack patient's heart and can either protect or even help regrow the heart muscles," Kleis said.
One tool the research team is using is a tiny, state-of-the-art "bioreactor" that Kleis developed during the past few years with Sandra Geffert-Moore, who at the time was a doctoral student. The palm-size bioreactor originally was envisioned as a long-term cell culture system for use on NASA's unmanned spaceflights, Kleis explained.
"The smaller size was important for the use on a rocket as was the need for a completely autonomous operation and a self-contained environment," he said.
Kleis, who has worked with NASA for more than 20 years to enhance the functionality of its bioreactors, said that this particular device, like many inventions initially designed for use in space, has broad applications here on Earth not the least
|Contact: Angela Hopp|
University of Houston