Saturday, July 08, 2006

Science Saturday II: Marrow Cells to the Rescue

Canadian researchers have discovered the distress signal that mobilizes heart repair cells from bone marrow to an injured heart after a heart attack.

While it has long been known that bone marrow cells have the ability to clear the dead tissue after a heart attack, what was not known until now is the critically important role of bone marrow adult stem cells in repairing a damaged heart, restoring its function and enhancing the growth of new blood vessels.

Dr. Shafie Fazel, a cardiac surgery resident at the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine at Toronto General Hospital, explains that
These cells act like generals in a battlefield. When damaged heart tissue sends out an "SOS" distress signal, this subset of bone marrow cells mobilizes quickly and stimulates the growth of new blood vessels in the heart. This is the first step in repairing the heart and in preventing the vicious downward spiral of heart failure in which the heart progressively thins and dilates, eventually causing death.
Despite advances in surgical procedures, mechanical assistance devices, drug therapy, and organ transplantation, more than half of patients with congestive heart failure die within five years of initial diagnosis.

Science Daily has more here.

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