Thanks to advances in diagnosis and treatment of congenital heart disease, babies born with heart defects are living longer than ever. However, despite substantial progress, many still face grim odds, lifelong medication, multiple surgeries and progressive heart failure, often requiring a transplant.
congenital heart disease healing from within
But what if instead of a heart transplant, the cells themselves a child could be induced to heal the heart from within? What if stored stem cells after birth could be injected into heartlessness of a child later to help regenerate its role and increase its pumping capacity?
“The heart failure, a heart muscle disease or structural heart disease, causes stress inducing stem cells to begin repairing, imitating the construction process of the heart that occurs in the fetus and newborn. “
cardiac critical care physician Conrad Epting, M.D., is on a mission to answer these questions.
Harnessing the body’s own defenses
Call it the body’s way of coping with the injury: Cells under stress act younger and multiply faster, says Epting.
The classic example of this defense mechanism is muscle damage induced by strenuous exercise. As a result, the muscles get bigger, stronger, more elastic and healthier. It is a process that occurs in all tissues except the heart and brain. However, recent research suggests that stress of heart failure may be a notable exception. Studies have found that stem cells obtained from failing hearts act younger, they are more vigorous and multiply faster than the cells obtained from healthy hearts.
What if this self-repair mechanism intrinsic could become a therapy to repair broken hearts?
The working hypothesis, Epting said, is how this can be of the nature of trying to prevent a catastrophe: When a baby’s heart begins to fail, the body goes into overdrive, start more stem cells in a attempt to save the damaged heart muscle.
“We believe that heart failure, whether caused by cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle or structural heart disease, causes stress inducing stem cells to begin repairing, imitating the construction process of the heart occurs in the fetus and newborn in, “says Epting. “If we can capitalize on that, we can redesign the heart tissue or trigger stem cells repair to stop the disease process.”
In other words, the heart cells of diseased hearts may have greater potential for cure. These cells, Epting said, also have longer telomeres – protective end caps of our chromosomes are believed to protect the vitality and health of DNA genes.
“Our focus in pediatric heart failure is mainly supportive,” says Epting. “We can give children medication, defibrillators and eventually heart transplants, but many of them still get sick and die. We’re trying to change that by helping hearts to heal from the inside.”
Scientists have yet to understand how the cellular switch that regulates the ability of the heart’s own stem cells to repair the damage that goes around the time of birth. Understanding what the switch and how to turn it back on can be a key to stimulate regeneration of the heart. Understanding malfunctions within heart cells that culminate in the development of heart disease in all rule is also little known. Disentangle changes in the behavior of cardiac cells could pave the way to treatments that avoid the need for surgery and transplants and help maintain even regenerate failing hearts.
ability of scientists to do this is based on access to cells well preserved heart and heart tissue. Historically, says Epting, access to human samples has been an important research moving forward obstacle. To address this problem, Epting and team have created a biological deposit of heart tissue removes excess at the time of surgery to help research on stem fuel cells and heart failure.
In addition, Lurie Children is the creation of a cord blood and heart tissue bank of newborns diagnosed with critical forms of heart disease. These samples are deep-frozen and stored for future use in the hope that as babies with heart disease who could benefit from major emerging therapies to repair their failing hearts are made. Such therapies, says Epting, can include injections of stem cells to replace scar tissue in the failing heart, or perhaps even replacing the heart chambers missing using 3-D printed.
Scientists at Lurie Children are collecting and studying the cardiac tissue of babies with a range of congenital heart disease, including structural heart defects, disease of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathies) and disorders of the heart’s electrical system that lead to rhythm disturbances .
The research focuses on several key areas:
– Understand what cells and genes in the heart respond to heart failure
– understand the factors regulating these genes
– indicating the time and mechanism of the “disengagement” that controls whether heart cells they can be divided so that regeneration can be stimulated to stop heart failure in its tracks
– comparing stem cells derived from healthy hearts and sick to unravel the differences that can reveal the key disease molecular events driving heart
So far, the repository has collected 800 samples 515patients. Samples are accessible to researchers Lurie Children and through the national network of collaboration Epting ‘Society of Surgery and congenital heart disease.
This article was originally published on medindia.net
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