Washington: Scientists have discovered a new population of adult stem cells in the heart, which they claim could augment the development of new regeneration and repair therapies for people who have suffered cardiac failure.
   
An international team, led by Prof Richard Harvey of the University of New South Wales and colleagues at Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, says that this is the first time this new population of stem cells has been formally described, and its origins clearly defined.
   
Professor Harvey says the findings, which used the mouse as a model system, are hugely exciting.
   
"The first part of our study was actually the discovery and characterisation of a new population of multi-potent, adult stem cells that live in the heart -- that is, stem cells that are powerful in dividing, and responding to their native environment to form whatever tissue is needed for repair.

"The fact that this new group of cells are multi-potent, and highly specific to the heart, gives us great hope that when we translate these cells into the human setting, they will work well at regenerating and repairing a broken heart or a heart that has suffered injury through heart attack or heart failure," he said.
   
The findings, published in the latest edition of the 'Cell Stem Cell' journal, come following recent reports that stem cells harvested from human hearts during surgery show promise for reversing heart attack damage.
   
"We believe this population of cells are very high up in the stem cell hierarchy, and can generate a number of progenitor cells that would exist in a healthy heart, ready
for action.
   
"This could bode very well for regeneration therapies that are just beginning to be trialled around the world with other populations of stem cells," Prof Harvey said.

(Agencies)