Embryonic stem cell therapy shows steady benefits in rebuilding infarcted heart

BETHESDA, MD (August 18, 2004) - Despite improvements in earlier diagnosis and treatment, cardiovascular disease is far and away the leading cause of death in the U.S. and the world.

According to the latest posted statistics, heart disease causes 700,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, with the number of adults diagnosed with heart disease exceeding 23 million, or 11.5% of the adult population.

Previously thought of as concentrated in rich countries, ischemic heart and related cerebrovascular diseases alone caused an estimated 17 million or 23.2% of deaths globally in 2000, WHO reported.

A contributing cause of what some have called a pandemic is that in contrast to many other organs in the body, the heart has only a minimal capability for self-renewal, leaving most current therapies to address symptoms with little hope of rehabilitating the injured heart itself after a heart attack (myocardial infarction).

The regenerative potential of stem cells in relation to the muscle layer of the heart wall (or myocardium) has been recently recognized, but how this might translate into therapeutic uses to repair the heart has been limited.

Mayo Clinic team demonstrates potential for "rebuilding" damaged heart

Using embryonic stem cells, Mayo Clinic researchers transformed these master cell types into fully functional cardiac cells and transplanted them into damaged regions of the myocardium, where the cells integrated into the infarct and showed rapid and robust improvements, which were stable over an extended period post-therapy.

The study, entitled "Stable benefit of embryonic stem cell therapy in myocardial infarction," appears in the August 2004 edition of the American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology, one of 14 peer-reviewed journals published by the American Physiological Society.

The investigative team under the direction of Andre Terzic included Denice M. Hodgson, Atta Behf


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