Researchers at Seoul National University Hospital have found evidence to develop a stem cell and gene therapy that focuses on regenerating damaged heart muscles.
|Seoul National University Hosptial in Ewha-dong, Seoul.|
“Unlike other organs, the heart cannot regenerate itself once damaged, which is why existing drugs and procedures have reached limits,” the hospital said. “For the past two decades, global researchers have been looking for clues to apply stem cells and gene therapy in regenerating damaged heart muscle.”
Professor Kim Hyo-su and his team found a way to obtain large amounts of myocardial cells purely from dedifferentiated pluripotent stem cells.
The team discovered such a method after taking a particular interest in the markers only expressed in myocardial stem cells.
The research team created optimal cell-testing conditions that divide pluripotent stem cells and develop them into myocardial cells. In the differentiation process, the team used microarray analysis to search for genes that increased with the differentiation and found a cell surface marker called latrophilin-2.
The team confirmed that latrophilin-2 only expresses itself in the myocardial stem cell stage.
In an animal mouse model, Professor Kim confirmed that the mouse died in the uterus due to a heart malformation when deprived of the latrophilin-2 gene.
The researchers found that in the process of differentiating pluripotent stem cells, isolating and amplifying only latrophilin-2 positive cells could yield 100 percent pure myocardial cells in large quantities.
The team is preparing a second paper to demonstrate the same mechanism in human myocardial cells and expects the results of the second study will produce an effective treatment method for myocardial infarction and heart failure patients.
“Using the latrophilin-2 protein identified in this study, it is possible to mass-proliferate myocardial cells by dramatically improving the way of differentiating myocardial cells,” Professor Kim said. “The high practical value will open up a new horizon of cell and gene therapy in the field of myocardial regeneration therapy.”
The results of the research were published as a “featured article” in the journal Circulation.