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Fetal stem cells from placenta may help maternal heart recover from injury
Date:11/14/2011

i School of Medicine, and principal investigator of the study. "This is an exciting development that has far-reaching therapeutic potential."

With a broader understanding of the role of fetal stem cells, Dr. Chaudhry and her team then isolated the fetal cells that had grafted onto the maternal hearts and recreated the environment in vitro. They found that the cells spontaneously differentiated into cardiac cells in cell culture as well.

Until now, researchers have had limited success in discovering the regenerative potential of stem cells in heart disease. The use of bone marrow cells in cardiac regeneration has largely failed as well. Dr. Chaudhry's research team has found that fetal cells may potentially be a viable therapeutic agent, both through in vivo and in vitro studies.

"Identifying an ideal stem cell type for cardiac regeneration has been a major challenge in heart disease research," said Dr. Chaudhry. "Embryonic stem cells have shown potential but come with ethical concerns. We've shown that fetal stem cells derived from the placenta, which is discarded postpartum, have significant promise. This marks a significant step forward in cardiac regenerative medicine."

These findings have implications beyond cardiovascular disease. The fetal stem cells traveled only to the injury site on the damaged heart, and not to other undamaged organs, meaning research on the benefit of these cells on organs damaged by other diseases would be beneficial. Importantly, a significant percentage of the fetal cells isolated from maternal hearts express a protein called Cdx2, which indicates that the cells may not have developed mature immune recognition molecules and therefore are unlikely to cause a negative immune response, which occurs in organ transplant.

"Our study shows the promise of these cells beyond just cardiovascular disease," said Dr. Chaudhry. "Additionally, this breakthrough greatly underscores the importance of tran
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