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University of Maryland study: Neonatal heart stem cells may help mend kids' broken hearts
Date:9/10/2012

Baltimore, MD September 10, 2012 Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, who are exploring novel ways to treat serious heart problems in children, have conducted the first direct comparison of the regenerative abilities of neonatal and adult-derived human cardiac stem cells. Among their findings: cardiac stem cells (CSCs) from newborns have a three-fold ability to restore heart function to nearly normal levels compared with adult CSCs. Further, in animal models of heart attack, hearts treated with neonatal stem cells pumped stronger than those given adult cells. The study is published in the September 11, 2012, issue of Circulation.

"The surprising finding is that the cells from neonates are extremely regenerative and perform better than adult stem cells," says the study's senor author, Sunjay Kaushal, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director, pediatric cardiac surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center. "We are extremely excited and hopeful that this new cell-based therapy can play an important role in the treatment of children with congenital heart disease, many of whom don't have other options."

Dr. Kaushal envisions cellular therapy as either a stand-alone therapy for children with heart failure or an adjunct to medical and surgical treatments. While surgery can provide structural relief for some patients with congenital heart disease and medicine can boost heart function up to two percent, he says cellular therapy may improve heart function even more dramatically. "We're looking at this type of therapy to improve heart function in children by 10, 12, or 15 percent. This will be a quantum leap in heart function improvement."

Heart failure in children, as in adults, has been on the rise in the past decade and the prognosis for patients hospitalized with heart failure remains poor. In contrast to adults, Dr. Kaushal says heart f
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Contact: Bill Seiler
bseiler@umm.edu
410-328-8919
University of Maryland Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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