Large numbers of stem cells taken from adult pigs’ healthy heart tissue have been successfully grown and used to repair some of the tissue damage done to those organs by lab-induced heart attacks.
Pigs’ hearts closely resemble those of humans, making them a useful model in such research.
Johns Hopkins cardiologists used a thin tube to extract very small samples of heart tissue within hours of the animals’ heart attacks. These samples grew large numbers of cardiac stem cells in the lab from tissue obtained through biopsy and in a month implanted the cells into the pigs’ hearts. The scientists have shown that within two months the cells had developed into mature heart cells and vessel-forming endothelial cells.
“This is a relatively simple method of stem cell extraction that can be used in any community-based clinic, and if further studies show the same kind of organ repair that we see in pigs, it could be performed on an outpatient basis,” said Eduardo Marban, senior study author and professor and chief of cardiology at the School of Medicine and its Heart Institute.