In a step forward for organ regeneration, stem cells grown from a single monkey’s skin cells revitalised the damaged hearts of five sick macaques, scientists reported Monday.
These “Adult” stem cells exist deep inside certain organs, including the heart, to replenish damaged cells. Adult heart stem cells have already been experimentally used in heart attack victims. Therapy with embryonic stem cells has shown promise in treating severe heart failure.
Growing them from the patient’s own cells was “Time-consuming, laborious and costly”, while heart cells grown from another person’s cells may be rejected as foreign by the recipient’s immune system, the researchers wrote.
In the monkey trials, the team chose a molecule in an immune-system cell that was a match in both donor and recipients, to stop the body’s defence system identifying and reacting to the “Intruder” cells.
Experts not involved in the study said it was a step forward, but cautioned of a long road ahead. “I do not think stem cell treatment for heart failure will become a reality for many years,” said cardiologist Tim Chico of the University of Sheffield.