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Potential New Source of Stem Cells for Heart Repair
Date:5/28/2010

Amniotic membrane used by Japanese researchers to rejuvenate damaged heart muscle in rats

FRIDAY, May 28 (HealthDay News) -- Stem cells from the amniotic sac that surrounds a fetus may someday be used to repair damage caused by a heart attack, Japanese researchers report.

The work, so far only conducted in animals, raises the possibility of a non-controversial source of stem cells to treat not only heart disease but also many other conditions, said Dr. Shunichiro Miyoshi, an assistant professor in the cardiology department at the Keio University School of Medicine, and co-author of a report in the May 28 online issue of Circulation Research.

"I believe these cells may be utilized in the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as SLA [systemic lupus erythematosus] and rheumatoid arthritis," Miyoshi said. The amniotic sac is typically discarded after childbirth.

SLA is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system cells mistakenly attack healthy tissue.

The cells that Miyoshi and his colleagues have used in mouse studies can easily be obtained in large numbers and offer another major advantage: they bypass the need to match donor-recipient cell typing, Miyoshi explained.

"At the present time there is no barrier for clinical utilization," he said. "We can obtain amniotic membrane from every delivery. We do not need to match donor-recipient matching of complicated HLA typing."

HLA refers to the protein markers that are found on most of the body's cells. Transplanted cells that differ from the recipient's HLA type will be attacked and destroyed by the immune system.

The Keio researchers have begun a series of studies aimed at the human use of the amniotic stem cells. "Now we are performing the experiment on a swine model," Miyoshi said. "Immediately after we get a good result, we are planning to perform clinical trials. I believe it will go on within a few years. Bu
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