HOPE STEMS FOR A BROKEN HEART
Stem cells from mouse bone marrow can help repair muscle killed in heart attacks, Piero Anversa and his team at New York Medical College, New York, and colleagues, show in this week's Nature (Vol. 410, No. 6829, 5 April 2001). The results are likely to raise the already high profile of adult stem cells as a valuable source of treatments for disease.
Bone marrow cells may be an ideal solution to the problem of replacing damaged hearts: they give rise to both heart muscle and blood vessels, can be harvested from the patient to prevent rejection, and adult stem cells avoid the ethical minefield of embryonic stem-cell use. Anversa thinks that stem-cell therapy to restore heart function after heart attacks could be as little as 3 years away.
"Cardiac stem cells have been the Holy Grail of cardiovascular researchers working to find a way to replace damaged heart tissue," says Mark Sussman of the Children's Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, who discusses the implications in an accompanying News and Views article.
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