Good News on Aged Stem Cells

As you might know, there is some concern that stem cells in the old will not produce the desired results when used in autologous therapies. They may be damaged in ways that will decrease their ability to spur regeneration, or make it impossible to use them to build a new organ - which would be problematic, as old people are exactly the population who most need the potential benefits of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering.

I noticed good news on this front today:

Scientists surgically removed tissue from the muscular wall of the heart’s chambers in 21 patients. They then isolated and multiplied the cardiac stem cells (CSCs) found there. Most of the patients had ischemic cardiomyopathy (enlarged and weakened muscle due to coronary artery disease). Eleven also had diabetes. The average age of patients was about 65.

"Regardless of the gender or age of the patient, or of diabetes, we were able to isolate in all of them a pool of functional cardiac stem cells that we can potentially use to rescue the decompensated human heart."

The status of the stem cells is only one part of the problems caused by an age-damaged biochemistry, however. Even if the cells are pristine, the environment they will be returned to is not - and that environment generates chemical signals that steer the behavior of stem cells. If the signals are dysfunctional, then the cells will behave in a similarly dysfunctional fashion, and this is no doubt a factor in the present struggle to make first generation stem cell transplant therapies a going concern.

You can look back into the Fight Aging! archives for an overview of some of the issues and related research:

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