Show/hide main menu

News

News Highlights

Heart's own stem cells offer hope for new treatment of heart failure

Posted on 15/08/2013
Stem-Cells2

Stem cells under a microscope

Researchers at King's College London have for the first time highlighted the natural regenerative capacity of a group of stem cells that reside in the heart. This new study shows that these cells are responsible for repairing and regenerating muscle tissue damaged by a heart attack which leads to heart failure.

The study, published today in the journal Cell, shows that if the stem cells are eliminated, the heart is unable to repair after damage. If the cardiac stem cells are replaced the heart repairs itself, leading to complete cellular, anatomical and functional heart recovery, with the heart returning to normal and pumping at a regular rate.

Also, if the cardiac stem cells are removed and re-injected, they naturally 'home' to and repair the damaged heart, a discovery that could lead to less-invasive treatments and even early prevention of heart failure in the future.

The study, funded by the European Commission Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), set out to establish the role of cardiac stem cells (eCSCs) by first removing the cells from the hearts of rodents with heart failure. This stopped regeneration and recovery of the heart, demonstrating the intrinsic regenerative capacity of these cells for repairing the heart in response to heart failure.

Heart failure - when the heart is unable to pump blood around the body adequately - affects more than 750,000 people in the UK, causing breathlessness and impeding daily activities. Current treatments are aimed at treating the underlying causes, such as coronary heart disease, heart attack and blood pressure through lifestyle changes, medicines and in severe cases, surgery. These treatments are sometimes successful in preventing or delaying heart failure. However, once heart failure develops the only curative treatment is heart transplantation.

By revealing this robust homing mechanism, which causes cardiac stem cells to home to and repair the heart's damaged muscle, the findings could lead to less invasive treatments or even preventative measures aimed at maintaining or increasing the activity of the heart's own cardiac stem cells.

Dr Georgina Ellison, the first author of the paper and Professor Bernardo Nadal-Ginard, the study's corresponding author, both from the Centre of Human & Aerospace Physiological Sciences and the Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine at King's, said: 'In a healthy heart the quantity of cardiac stem cells is sufficient to repair muscle tissue in the heart. However, in damaged hearts many of these cells cannot multiply or produce new muscle tissue. In these cases it could be possible to replace the damaged cardiac stem cells or add new ones by growing them in the laboratory and administering them intravenously.'

Dr Ellison added: 'Understanding the role and potential of cardiac stems cells could pave the way for a variety of new ways to prevent and treat heart failure. These new approaches involve maintaining or increasing the activity of cardiac stem cells so that muscle tissue in the heart can be renewed with new heart cells, replacing old cells or those damaged by wear and tear.

'The cardiac stem cells naturally home to the heart because the heart is their home - they know to go there. Current practices involve major operations such as injection through the heart's muscle wall (intramyocardial) or coronary vessels (intracoronary). The homing mechanism shown by our research could lead to a less invasive treatment whereby cardiac stem cells are injected through a vein in the skin (intravenously).'

Professor Nadal-Ginard added: 'Although an early study, our findings are very promising. Next steps include clinical trials, due to start early 2014, aimed at assessing the effectiveness of cardiac stem cells for preventing and treating heart failure in humans.'

Work for this project was undertaken by Dr Ellison and her team at Liverpool John Moores University, UK and in collaboration with institutions in Italy led by Magna Graecia University, Catanzaro. Since completing this work, Dr Ellison and the European funded CARE-MI project have moved to King's.

Notes to editors

For further information please contact the Public Relations Department at King’s College London on 0207 848 3202 or pr@kcl.ac.uk

Rss Feed Atom Feed

News Highlights:

News Highlights...Rss FeedAtom Feed

King's Cultural Institute Enquiry to explore integration of arts with major national events

King's Cultural Institute Enquiry to explore integration of arts with major national events

Description
Following the success of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, King's Cultural Institute is undertaking its first Cultural Enquiry into the role that the UK's vibrant arts and cultural sector can play in adding value to sporting and major national events in the future.
Study shows midwife-led care leads to better outcomes

Study shows midwife-led care leads to better outcomes

Description
Maternity care that involves a midwife as the main care provider leads to better outcomes for most women, according to a systematic review led by King's researchers and published in The Cochrane Library.
Birmingham: Mock terror attack

Birmingham: Mock terror attack

Description
Thursday 15th August 2013: A simulated terrorist attack in Birmingham city centre today involved researchers from King's College London analysing the reaction of around 150 volunteer participants. The King's study forms part of a research project looking at public responses to extreme events. It will help identify practices and procedures that can make emergency response more effective.

Share this story:

add

Follow Us

@kingscollegelon

Live Twitter feed...

@kingscollegelon
Join the conversation
Sitemap Site help Terms and conditions Accessibility Recruitment News Centre Contact us

© 2014 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454