April 12, 2024

Adult stem cells fail to spark heart

After several encouraging reports that adult stem cells had repaired damaged heart tissue, the latest research pours cold water on the idea. A study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that stem cells from bone marrow did not become “normal, mature muscle cells”. Experiments with mice showed that bone marrow stem cells did migrate to the heart, but they failed to produce a muscle protein which is essential for normal functioning. Instead, the affected mice developed abnormal cardiac rhythms. Other scientists were disappointed but not disheartened. “It brings a new level of rigour to the field and tells us this is not going to be as easy as many of us had thought,” said Dr Doris Taylor, of the University of Minnesota. “We have to understand the science better. And that’s only going to be good for patients.”