CNN’s Elizabeth Landau reported last week on the growing use of stem cells to treat heart maladies.
Studies done recently show that if you have had a heart attack within the last ten days, and receive an injection of stem cells, your heart damage can not just be treated, it can actually be repaired! All this using adult stem cells.
Specifically, mesenchymal stem cells. These unique adult stem cells have a “natural homing capability,” meaning that when injected into a damaged human body, they head directly for the damaged area. On repairing a heart, Joshua Hare, director of the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine had this to say:
“The stem cells reduce the amount of scar tissue and increase the pumping strength of the heart in heart attack patients…To a limited extent, they also grow new heart muscle.”
What is also unique about stem cell therapy is that it does not require donors and receivers to be matched based on compatibility. Virtually anyone can give and receive another person’s stem cells, without any need for immuno-suppressant drugs.
Doctors are looking to streamline this type of therapy within the next five years, and in the meantime, research is ongoing. Doctors are interested in seeing the uses of these adult stem cells for different medical disorders and diseases, as well as further researching the benefit of using a person’s own stem cells to heal themselves.
This is excellent news in the world of science. While I am no expert, it seems to me that this is concrete evidence of the value of adult stem cells, while there are still no clear reasons as to the necessity or benefit of using human embryos. Congratulations to the ethical and responsible scientists working on this research!