Stem Cells To Patch Up Damaged Hearts

By growing heart cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells on a nanofiber scaffold, scientists have developed a patch that could be used to repair damaged hearts.

AsianScientist (Oct. 31, 2017) – Researchers have grown human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) onto a patch which could be used to repair damaged hearts. Their findings are published in Stem Cell Reports.

Cardiovascular diseases such as myocardial infarctions, also known as heart attacks, are the leading cause of death globally. A seriously injured heart cannot recover by itself, and heart transplants are the only effective treatment. However, due to a shortage of donor organs, the waiting list for transplants is very long.

To bypass the need for heart transplants, researchers have turned to using heart muscle cells, or cardiomyocytes, to repair damaged heart regions. However, the cardiomyocytes used are typically organized in two dimensions with a random myofibril structure, which is different from natural heart tissue.

In this study, a team of researchers led by Dr. Li Liu and Professor Yong Chen of Kyoto University, together with Professor Yoshiki Sawa of Osaka University, prepared biodegradable, aligned nanofibers for culturing cardiomyocytes derived from human iPSCs, successfully creating organized and functional cardiac tissue-like constructs (CTLCs).

The aligned nanofibers were made from poly-lactic-co-glycolic acid (PLGA), an FDA-approved, biodegradable material. These aligned nanofibers served as a scaffold for culturing cardiomyocytes derived from human iPSCs. The researchers found that the cardiomyocytes infiltrated and enveloped the nanofibers, showing elongation and an upregulated expression of cardiac markers.

Cardiomycocytes grown on this scaffold formed myofibril-aligned, multi-layered and three-dimensional CTLCs which demonstrated robust drug responses and were readily used for the repair of injured rat hearts. The CTLCs showed excellent operability, leading to favorable heart function recovery.

Future studies are now being planned to use CTLCs to repair injured hearts of larger animals, before advancing to clinical applications.

The article can be found at: Li et al. (2017) Human Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Cardiac Tissue-like Constructs for Repairing the Infarcted Myocardium


Source: Kyoto University; Photo: Shutterstock.
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