Stem Cell Therapy is Creating Solutions in Cardiac Health – Studies Reveal.
Ayinla Daniel, Rn, Rctn.
The muscles of the human heart are a delicate bunch of complex muscle tissues that require a great amount of oxygen to function properly (the muscles of the human heart constantly beat; contracts and dilates). As it contracts, it sends blood into the lungs for oxygenation and through the aorta to the systemic circulation, and as it relaxes, blood enters it’s four chambers from the great veins (Inferior and Superior Vena-cavas and the four pulmonary veins), this it does simultaneously.
It may surprise you to know that the heart extracts about 70 – 75 per cent of the oxygen in the blood. This enters the coronary circulation (a network of arteries and veins that supply blood to the hearts musculature), showing how important oxygen is to the myocardium (heart muscle mass/tissue).
A slight reduction in the amount of oxygen supply to the heart muscles immediately triggers a cascade of physiological events that lead to the gradual death of heart cells, a term called ischaemia is better used to describe this event.
Cardiac muscle tissue death is the primary cause of most heart pathologies, apart from other pathologies that affect the valves, congenital abnormalities the epicardium, great blood vessels and other structures of the heart.
Recent developments in stem cell technology promise to solve a great deal of cardiac pathology by quickly replacing dead muscle cells/tissues with fresh ones.
Stem cell therapy is focused on three types of heart cells, which are Cardiomyocytes, Cardiac Pace Maker Cells and Endothelial Cells. Though they are other specialised cardiac cells that play very vital roles in the repair of damaged heart tissue, these cells are the specific cells that researchers are more concerned about.
Cardiomyocytes are the cells responsible for coordinating the pumping actions of the heart muscles, which can be found more in the chambers of the heart; atria and ventricles.
Cardiac Pace Maker Cells are responsible for the electrical activities of the heart, as we all know, that the heart is like an electric device, it runs on electric currents, that keeps the muscles working.
Endothelial Cells are the cells that line blood vessels and keep them oxygenated.
Do you see how important these cells are? They are the primary targets of stem cell therapy. Tissue engineering can be able to someday transplant viable heart cells to replace dead tissues.
There is a lot of work here because the transplanted cells have to agree with the home cells (original cells). In the lab, cardiomyocytes can be grown from Embryonic Stem Cells and Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPS). Embryonic Stem Cells are special cells isolated from embryos, which have the ability to become any cell in the human body, a sort of parent cell, while Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells are cells engineered to behave like embryonic stem cells.
This research is still in its early stages and like every other research, it takes time to fully understand the behaviour of these complex physiologies, which will include its true benefits, possible side effects and other factors including cost of therapy.
Early experiments have shown that this method is feasible, with small patches of transplanted cells introduced to the surface of diseased hearts, there was some improvement, but did not last too long. More work can be done!
Clinical trials using improved methods are expected to commence in 2020, we do hope that the outcomes will be favourable, producing results that can translate into real-life long-lasting solutions to cardiac morbidities.
With experiments and researches like this going on, man is certainly going to keep improving his health and life, instead of spending abnormal amounts on weapons and useless projects, these are the kind of endeavours we all should be busy with, improving humanity. Kudos to all those using their time to make sure humanity finds solutions to its many problems.
To know more about Hold My Hands, Care City’s debut outreach in Northern Nigeria, kindly follow this link: https://thisiscarecity.wordpress.com/2020/01/19/hold-my-hands-our-debut-outreach-mission/
We are working hard to help children in rural communities in Nigeria with cardiac morbidities find solutions, you can be part of our journey.