"The finding extends the current knowledge in the field of native cardiac progenitor cell therapy," said senior author Yerem Yeghiazarians, MD, director of UCSF's Translational Cardiac Stem Cell Program and an associate professor at the UCSF Division of Cardiology. "Most of the previous research has focused on a different subset of cardiac progenitor cells. These novel cardiac precursor cells appear to have great therapeutic potential."
The hope, he said, is that patients who have severe heart failure after a heart attack or have cardiomyopathy would be able to be treated with their own cardiac stem cells to improve the overall health and function of the heart. Because the cells would have come from the patients, themselves, there would be no concern of cell rejection after therapy.
The cells, known as Sca-1+ stem enriched in Islet (Isl-1) expressing cardiac precursors, play a major role in cardiac development. Until now, most of the research has focused on a different subset of cardiac progenitor, or early stage, cells known as, c-kit cells.
The Sca-1+ cells, like the c-kit cells, are located within a larger clump of cells called cardiospheres.
The UCSF researchers used special culture techniques and isolated Sca-1+ cells enriched in the Isl-1expressing cells, which are believed to be instrumental in the heart's development. Since Isl-1 is expressed in the cell nucleus, it has been difficult to isolate them but the new technique enriches for this cell population.
The findings suggest a potential treatment strategy, said Yeghiazarians. "Heart disease, including heart attack and heart failure, is the number one killer in advanced countries. It would be a huge advance if we could decrease repeat hospitalizations, improve the quality of life and increase survival." More studies are being planned to address these issues in the future.
An estimated 785,000 Americans will have a new hea
|Contact: Leland Kim|
University of California - San Francisco