A new method of growing cardiac tissue is teaching old stem cells new tricks.
The discovery, which transforms aged stem cells into cells that function like much younger ones, may one day enable scientists to grow cardiac patches for damaged or diseased hearts from a patient’s own stem cells — no matter what age the patient — while avoiding the threat of rejection.
Stem cell therapies involving donated bone marrow stem cells run the risk of patient rejection in a portion of the population, says Milica Radisic, Canada Research Chair in Functional Cardiovascular Tissue Engineering at the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering (IBBME) and Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry at the University of Toronto.
One method of avoiding the risk of rejection has been to use cells derived from a patient’s own body. But until now, clinical trials of this kind of therapy using elderly patients’ own cells have not been a viable option, since aged cells tend not to function as well as cells from young patients.