Researchers Identify New Adult Stem Cells to Treat Heart Attacks, Muscles

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 4, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Researchers Identify New Adult Stem Cells to Treat Heart Attacks, Muscles Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 4,

Pittsburgh, PA ( — Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center have discovered a unique population of adult stem cells derived from human muscle that could be used to treat muscle injuries and diseases such as heart attack and muscular dystrophy. These cells advance the kind of stem cell research that pro-life advocates support.

The researchers isolated and characterized stem cells taken from blood vessels (known as myoendothelial cells).

These cells are easily isolated using cell-sorting techniques, proliferate rapidly and can be differentiated in the laboratory into muscle, bone and cartilage cells.

As a result, these characteristics may make them ideally suited as a potential therapy for muscle injuries and diseases.

Drs. Johnny Huard and Bruno Péault led the study and published their results in the September issue of the journal Nature Biotechnology.

"Finding this population of stem cells in a human source represents a major breakthrough for us because it brings us much closer to a clinical application of this therapy," Huard said in a press release obtained.

Dr. Huard also said that the therapies derived from the adult stem cells would avoid the immune system rejection issues that normally accompany the use of embryonic ones.

"Because this is an autologous transplant, meaning from the patient to himself, there is not the risk of rejection you would have if you took the stem cells from another source," he explained.

Working in dystrophic mice while searching for a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Dr. Huard’s laboratory team first identified a unique population of muscle-derived stem cells with the ability to repair muscle 8 years ago.