Friday, 22 February 2013

Repairing hearts using parthenogenetic stem cells

In a study that just came out a team of researchers, led by Wolfram Zimmerman, from the University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG), Germany has successfully created cardiomyocytes and heart muscle tissue from parthenogenetic stem cells. The researchers believe that their findings have implications for creating new cell-based therapeutic approaches for treating heart failure.

Parthenogenetic stem cells were first created on June 26, 2007 by International Stem Cell Corporation (ISCC). Essentially, they are stem cells derived from unfertilised human eggs using parthenogenesis. The UMG researchers used this technology and created, for the first time, cardiomyocytes and lab-grown heart tissue. According to the study, the newly-grown heart tissue beats spontaneously like healthy tissue does and mice experiments suggest the tissue can be used to repair cardiac damages induced after a heart attack.


A single cardiomyocytes cell

According to the study, parthenogenetic stem cells:
  • Have similar properties to embryonic stem cells and are pluripotent in nature.
  • They can differentiate into healthy cardiomyocytes, both in vitro and in the body of mice.
  • Can be used to create lab-grown heart muscle.
  • Cause smaller, if any, rejection reactions, a great advantage when compared to other types of stem cells.

Zimmermann says:
“We have shown for the first time that unfertilised oocytes are a promising starting material for the tissue engineering-based treatment of post-infarct heart failure”, adding that their method requires no embryos and genetic manipulations.

The next goal of Zimmermann's team is to start human clinical trials. Getting unfertilised oocytes, needed to create parthenogenetic stem cells, isn't a problem since more than 60,000 of them are discarded yearly in Germany alone. However, Zimmermann says that human clinical trials on patients with heart failure isn't happening any time soon.

“The road to clinical application in patients with heart failure is still long, and we need to ensure that patients are not exposed to intolerable risks”, adding that their tissue repair approach not only has implications for heart failure patients, but for many other life threatening conditions as well.


Video featuring Wolfram H. Zimmerman on the topic of cardiac repair




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References
Didié, M., Christalla, P., Rubart, M., Muppala, V., Döker, S., Unsöld, B., El-Armouche, A., Rau, T., Eschenhagen, T., Schwoerer, A., Ehmke, H., Schumacher, U., Fuchs, S., Lange, C., Becker, A., Tao, W., Scherschel, J., Soonpaa, M., Yang, T., Lin, Q., Zenke, M., Han, D., Schöler, H., Rudolph, C., Steinemann, D., Schlegelberger, B., Kattman, S., Witty, A., Keller, G., Field, L., & Zimmermann, W. (2013). Parthenogenetic stem cells for tissue-engineered heart repair Journal of Clinical Investigation DOI: 10.1172/JCI66854

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