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#Health,#TrueNews : Can stem cells help a diseased heart heal itself ?

Can stem cells help a diseased heart heal itself? 

A team of Rutgers scientists, including Leonard Lee and Shaohua Li, have taken an important step toward the goal of making diseased hearts heal themselves -- a new model that would reduce the need for bypass surgery, heart transplants or artificial pumping devices. 



The study, recently published in Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology, involved removing connective tissue cells from a human heart, "reverse-engineering" them into heart stem cells, then "re-engineering" them into heart muscle cells. 

The Rutgers team's true breakthrough, however, is that the newly created cardiac muscle cells clumped together into a single unit that visibly pumps under the microscope. 

Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School is a medical school of Rutgers University. Robert Wood Johnson Medical School operates campuses in Piscataway and New Brunswick in New Jersey. 

Senior author Leonard Y. Lee*, chair of the Department of Surgery at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, said cardiac cells made in this way don't normally come together and beat as one. 


*Leonard Y. Lee, M.D. is Professor of Surgery, the James W. Mackenzie MD Endowed Chair in Surgery, Chairman of the Department of Surgery and Chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, as well as Chief of the Cardiothoracic Surgery Service at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.

As Chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Dr. Lee coordinates care on the Cardiac Surgery Service at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital which performs over 1300 cardiac surgeries per year and includes cardiac transplant, ventricular assist devices, robotic mitral valve repairs, minimally invasive valve surgery, and has grown consistently in volume over the past three years. 

He is nationally recognized for innovative surgical techniques and approaches to the treatment of valvular heart disease in addition to his research efforts in inflammation and stem cell therapies for cardiac repair.As Interim Chair of the Department of Surgery at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Dr. Lee coordinates a Department of 80+ surgeons and faculty across 9 clinical divisions, incorporating 3 residency programs and 3 fellowships.







His team succeeded in making this happen by over-expressing, a protein in the cells called CREG. 

According to Lee, fibroblasts, a cell in connective tissue, were isolated from the heart tissue and reverse-engineered -- or transformed -- into stem cells. 

This was done so that when the CREG protein was over expressed the stem cells would differentiate into cardiac cells. "Heart failure has reached epidemic proportions. 

Right now, the only option to treat it is surgery, transplant, or connecting the patient with a blood-pumping machine,

Lee said. "But transplantable hearts are in short supply and mechanical devices limit the patient's quality of life. So, we are working for ways to help hearts heal themselves.

Md Leonard Y. Lee

Though still far off, Lee's ultimate goal is to be able to remove small amounts of a patient's native heart tissue, use CREG to convert the tissue into cardiac muscles that will work together cohesively, and re-introduce them into the patient's heart allowing it to heal itself. More than six million Americans are living with heart failure, according to the American Heart Association. 

While most people hear the term "heart failure" and think this means the heart is no longer working at all, but it actually means that the heart is not pumping as well as it should be. People with heart failure often experience fatigue and shortness of breath and have difficulty with every day activities such as walking and climbing stairs. 




Story Source: Materials provided by Rutgers University. 

Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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