It’s no secret that stem cell therapy has forever changed the world of medicine. Not only has this important field of regenerative medicine given us the tools to help patients find the right treatments for their needs, but the outcomes are undeniable. In recent years, stem cell therapy has become one of the most effective forms of treatment for a wide range of conditions and ailments.
Stem cells are the force behind a medical revolution for many reasons, including the fact they can repair the body and regenerate damaged tissues, organs, and more. When the body sustains an injury or as it goes through the natural aging process, cells have a more difficult time repairing the injured area. When this happens, it usually results in pain and discomfort. Thanks to stem cell therapy, the body is now able to heal itself naturally, providing patients with widespread relief and a much greater quality of life. Today we are going to look at three of the most pertinent breakthroughs in stem cell research (specifically involving the heart) to provide a greater understanding of how far we’ve come, and where we stand today.
Stem Cells and the Heart
One of the greatest breakthroughs stem cell research has had recently involved the heart. In 2001, Professor Christine Mummery and her Netherlands team used stem cells to develop a beating heart that existed outside of the body. This was the first time anything like this was created. One year later, Atlanta researcher Chunhui Xu discovered that human embryonic stem cells could actually be used to make heart muscle cells. This was a huge discovery that helped scientists understand just how beneficial this particular type of stem cells was. Then, in 2003, Professor Antonio Beltrami in Italy found a new population of cardiac stem cells in which another professor began researching to see how they could help the heart repair itself. In 2004 and 2007, respectively, researchers learned that heart-like cells could be made from fat cells and skin cells.
Given these incredible discoveries, in 2010 researchers and scientists began studying how these various stem cells could “wake up” the heart’s own stem cells. According to one researcher, a specific protein called thymosin beta-4 can actually encourage cells to support damaged tissue and aid in forming new muscle cells and blood vessels.
Just a few years ago in 2016, Scottish researchers began working on a blood transfusion project. Thanks in part to the past discoveries mentioned above, Dr. Jo Mountford of the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service started a project that aims to generate red blood cells from stem cells with the intention of making a “limitless supply of clean blood for transfusion.”
These incredible stem cells discoveries are just a small indication of where modern medicine is right now and where it intends to go. The very idea that stem cells may be able to resolve cardiac issues is exciting, to say the least, and something our doctors are keeping a watchful eye on. If you would like to learn more about stem cell therapy and how it may be of benefit to you, please do not hesitate to contact Texas Partners Healthcare Group today.