News

New discovery of adult stem cells gives fresh possibilities for heart regeneration

02 December 2011

Sydney researchers have discovered a new population of adult stem cells in the heart, which could augment the development of new regeneration and repair therapies for people who have suffered heart attack or heart failure, the leading cause of death in Australia.

The research, led by Professor Richard Harvey and his team at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute and the University of NSW is
 published in the international journal Cell Stem Cell today.  

Professor Martin Pera, Program Leader of Stem Cells Australia, commented that, "
This study identifies a new stem cell population in the adult heart.  These cells are somewhat similar to mesenchymal stem cells identified in bone marrow and other tissues, but they have a distinct origin and display unique properties.  These cells may have an important role in the repair of damaged tissue in myocardial infarction or heart failure.  Professor Harvey's future work with Stem Cells Australia will explore the potential for endogenous cells to participate in cardiac regeneration."

Professor Harvey said "The next step will be to characterise the human cells and test them in animal models, before exploring the viability of clinical trials for patients who have had heart attacks or heart failure.  It’s hoped this would begin in the next 3-5 years."

Heart disease claimed the lives of over 22,500 Australians in 2009, killing one Australian every 23 minutes.

This study was funded by grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Australian Research Council, the Australian Stem Cell Centre and the ARC Special Research Initiative in Stem Cell Research (Stem Cells Australia), the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund, National Heart Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, Johnson and Johnson, Cancer Institute New South Wales, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, Royal Australian College of Surgeons, The Avner Nahmani Pancreatic Cancer Foundation and RT Hall Trust.

For more information:
New discovery of adult stem cells gives fresh possibilities for heart regeneration
Adult Cardiac-Resident MSC-like Stem Cells with a Proepicardial Origin Cell Stem Cell (2011) Chong et al 9(6):527-40 (subscription maybe required)

Media coverage: 
New discovery of adult stem cells RADIO NATIONAL Health Report 12 December 2011 (Listen to podcast)
Stem cells traced to heart THE SCIENTIST 1 December 2011
New stem cells could fix broken hearts SYDNEY MORNING HERALD 1 December 2011
New stem cells could fix broken hearts HERALD SUN 2 December 2011
Stem cell hope for damaged hearts ADELAIDE NOW 2 December 2011
New stem cells could fix broken hearts NINE NEWS 2 December 2011
Heart stem cells discovered that can make bone and muscle BioNEWS UK 5 December 2011
tmore inform