Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Myocardial infarction or death of heart muscle is one of the major reasons for heart attacks. However, the damage to the heart tissue can now be repaired using stem cell technology: Prof Stephen Minger

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad:  Myocardial infarction or death of heart muscle is
one of the major reasons for heart attacks. However, the damage to the
heart tissue can now be repaired using stem cell technology.

According to eminent scientist Prof Stephen Minger, stem cell
technology has made it possible to repair heart tissue damaged by
myocardial infarction. There is no need to cut open the chest to gain
access to the heart muscle. Heart cells, cultured in laboratory using
stem cells, can be implanted in the heart through a catheter from one
of the arms. The patient can go home the same day.

Myocardial infarction takes place if blood supply to the heart is
stopped for a long time. The damaged tissue can be repaired using the
stem cell technology. India, with a billion-plus people, is all set to
play a key role in stem cells and regenerative medicine, he says
adding, “If India and China could bank even one per cent of their
annual births, they could supply stem cells to the whole world”.

Prof Stephen Minger, who heads the global research and development at
GE Healthcare, UK, told this correspondent “in about five year’s time
it would be possible to repair heart tissue damaged by myocardial
infarction and to replace neuronal cells lost in Parkinson’s and
Alzheimer’s diseases”.

Heart cells derived from stem cells of bone marrow have been implanted
successfully in a patient. Animal studies are on with regard to heart
cells generated from umbilical cord. The stem cell technology is also
helpful to transplant new insulin producing cells for diabetics and
myelinating cells for individuals afflicted with multiple sclerosis,
and to replace bone and cartilage lost through aging and inflammatory
disease.

“The generation of specific populations of defined subtypes of human
cells has tremendous potential to revolutionise the fields of drug
discovery and investigation into the cellular bases of human disease,”
Prof Stephen Minger pointed out. He is currently in Hyderabad to
create awareness for public banking of cord blood.

Prof Stephen Minger is known worldwide for his research in growing
cells, not in a petri dish, but at an industrial scale that could one
day supply zillions of stem cells to millions of people to repair
diseased organs.

“The newly emerging field of regenerative medicine will fundamentally
alter clinical medicine and significantly influence our perceptions of
aging, health and disease, with a myriad of consequences for society,”
he added.

Three new embryonic stem cell lines, including one that encodes the
most common genetic mutation resulting in cystic fibrosis, have been
generated. He said the Stem Cell Biology Laboratory of GE is focused
on the generation of a number of therapeutically relevant human
somatic stem cell populations from embryonic stem cells. These include
cardiac, vascular, retinal, and neural stem/progenitor cell
populations and pancreatic Beta cells.

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