Old Stem Cells Can Be Young Again Thanks to "Fountain of Youth"
November 28, 2012 8:16 PM
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Researchers found a way to turn old, aging stem cells into young, functional versions for cardiac tissue
A team of Canadian researchers have found a way to make old stem cells feel young again, which could be beneficial for elderly
patients with heart conditions
The research team, which consists of Milica Radisic and Dr. Ren-Ke Li from the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering (IBBME), has created a "fountain of youth" for aging stem cells, which allows them to be young and functional again.
The team specifically targeted cardiac tissue. The problem with some stem cell therapies is that the body can reject them. But researchers started using the patient's own stem cells in order to avoid rejection, yet there was still another problem -- elderly patients with
aging stem cells
tend to not function as well as younger stem cells, meaning they won't be as helpful in patching up cardiac tissue that has been damaged.
But the new technique involves placing elderly stem cells in a micro-environment, where they are mixed with different growth factors that lead to blood vessel growth and cell proliferation. These growth factors ended up stimulating the old stem cells, and turned off certain aging factors. Using two specific molecules, called p16 and RGN, turned the cells to a much younger state.
This will allow researchers to grow cardiac patches for damaged hearts without worrying about rejection or loss of function.
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RE: minor corrections
11/29/2012 1:53:50 PM
Actually, you're mostly right, but one minor correction: RGN decreases with age, and higher levels of RGN are associated with greater rejuvenation potential.
They used humans cells on a scaffold, so even though it was implanted into rats, it should be the same for humans (being our cells and all). They watched the levels of p16 and RGN; p16 mRNA went down due to the VEGF and bFGF slow release from the scaffold, while RGN mRNA went up. At the same time, markers of cardiac cell function like Collagen I and tensile strength went up as well versus a scaffold that did not release the transmitters.
It's pretty cool, giving the old cardiac stem cells young morphologies and protein expression levels with just two growth hormones on slow release. Seems the scaffold was effective in healing cardiac damage in the rats, too.
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