Researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and Academia Sinica of Taiwan have harnessed a combination of lab-grown cells to regenerate damaged heart muscle.
The study, published in Circulation — which addresses major challenges of using heart muscle cells, called cardiomyocytes, grown from stem cells — takes a crucial step toward future clinical applications.
Previous research has shown that transplanting cardiomyocytes made from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) can replace muscle in the hearts of mammals. Researchers have struggled to bring the treatment to the clinic, in part because the implanted cells haven’t developed enough life-sustaining blood vessels to survive very long.
The new study confronted that challenge by combining the lab-grown cardiomyocytes with stem-cell-derived endothelial cells — the cells that line blood. The combination therapy also holds promise for tackling arrhythmia, another significant obstacle in heart regeneration with stem-cell-derived cardiomyocytes.