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New stem cell therapy for heart repair developed by local team

2010/10/14 20:26:15

Taipei, Oct. 14 (CNA) A research team led by a professor atNational Cheng Kung University (NCKU) has succeeded in developing anew therapy for heart repair using stem cells, according to a pressrelease issued Tuesday by the university in southern Tainan City.

Patrick C.H. Hsieh, an assistant professor at the NCKU'sInstitute of Nanotechnology and Microsystem Engineering, College ofMedicine, along with his team, successfully combined self- assemblingpeptide nanofiber hydrogel with stem cells from autologous bonemarrow to treat an acute heart attack, or myocardial infarction.

Their experiment on Lanyu miniature pigs, which have a similarcardiac structure to that of humans, proved successful, making itpossible that the new stem cell therapy for treating heart disease --the first of its kind in the world -- can help boost the regenerationof myocardial muscle.

The discovery of the novel stem cell therapy was published inCirculation, the top international journal in the cardiovascularfield, in September 2010, and both foreign and domestic patentapplications are being applied for.

In Taiwan, there are approximately 2 million heart diseasepatients each year and 400,000 people suffer from heart attacks.

According to Hsieh, even if patients are lucky enough to survive,their myocardial cells lack the ability to regenerate. The cellscannot take intraventricular pressure and thus they will graduallyexpand and become thin, leading to heart failure.

"Even though recent research studies have indicated that manytypes of stem cells can be used to improve heart function and beclinically effective and secure, there is still room for improvement.For instance, when stem cells are cultured outside the body andinjected into the heart, most of them are immediately carried away bythe blood flow or else die quickly," he said.

To solve these problems, Hsieh's research team injected theself-assembling peptide nanofiber hydrogel into damaged areas ofcardiac infarction, a method that reduces the problems and inaddition, takes only 30 minutes to perform.

(By Flor Wang)