Treating Cardiac Disorders with Stem Cells
Heart failure is one of the leading causes of death in the western world and its incidence is increasing in the east. One of its causes is myocardial infarction which results in loss of muscle mass through death of cardiomyocytes. Replacing these by transplanting stem cells or encouraging cells in the heart itself to multiply are among the ways being investigated to prevent heart failure developing. The only stem cells which can form cardiomyocytes though are pluripotent stem cells, until recently only available from human embryos. Other types of (adult) stem are not able to form cardiomyocytes but, if transplanted, may help the heart recover and be of short term benefit through other mechanisms. One area using human embryonic stem cells is controversial because of its ethics, the other because of its sometimes disputed clinical outcome. Here, a critical overview of the issues is presented.
KeywordsCell therapy Stem cells Cardiomyocytes Heart infarct Clinical trials
Research by CLM cited in this review is supported by the Netherlands Heart Foundation, FP6 EU Heart Development and Heart Repair (LSHM-CT-2005-018630), ZonMW Dieren Alternatieven, and BSIK Stem Cells in Development and Disease.
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