Features September 2009 Issue

Bone Marrow Cells May Help with Variety of Cardiac Treatments

The use of bone marrow stem cells to repair damaged tissue helps the heart grow new blood vessels.

The use of bone marrow cells to treat heart disease could move from the experimental phase and into clinical application within the next several years, as researchers move closer to developing treatments for a variety of cardiac problems. Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Marc Penn, MD, PhD, a leading researcher in stem cell therapy, says hes confident that heart patients around the world could start to experience improved heart function triggered by bone marrow cells harvested from their own bodies. Typically, the bone marrow cells are taken from the pelvic bone. "Bone marrow cells help grow new blood vessels and release factors into the heart that allow the cells that have survived to work better," Dr. Penn says. One of those factors receiving a lot of attention is stromal cell derived factor 1 (SDF-1), which Dr. Penn identified and which can help attract stem cells to the heart. Stem cells are cells that can become any of a wide variety of different cell types.

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