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Umbilical cord holds key to heart repair: Study

Umbilical cord holds key to heart repair: Study


QMI Agency

 

First posted: Thursday, October 13, 2011 10:22 AM EDT | Updated: Thursday, October 13, 2011 10:23 AM EDT

 


New research out of the University of Bristol suggests stem cells from human umbilical cords could be used to treat heart attack victims.

"Our research suggests that in the future, stem cells derived from cord blood bank facilities might be used for repair after a heart attack," said lead author Raimondo Ascione.

Following a heart attack, doctors may use a patient's own stem cells to help repair the damaged heart muscle. But that technique is limited because aging and other risk factors can make the patient's cells non-functional.

In a new study, published in the journal Stem Cell Reviews & Reports, U.K. scientists took cells from umbilical cord blood, expanded them sevenfold and grew them into cardiac muscle cells.

"There has been interest for some time in the potential use of blood from the umbilical cord as a source of stem cells for therapy in a variety of diseases. This study has shown for the first time that it's possible to turn cord blood stem cells into cells that look like heart muscle, in the lab," said Dr. Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation,

"The results are encouraging, but there are still lots of questions to answer before we'll know whether these cells can be used successfully for heart repair in patients."

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