Can stem cells repair my damaged heart walls?
Research Brings Scientists Closer to Rebuilding Damaged Heart Walls
Stem cell research shows promise for repairing damaged heart walls. Researchers at Penn State University reveal they are one step closer to being able to regenerate damaged heart walls using stem cells. In 2012, the team developed a method to generate myocardium, the middle layer of heart tissue. Now, a similar approach is allowing the team to generate epicardium, the outer layer of the heart.
Using stem cells treated with special chemicals, the researchers were able to activate the Wnt signaling pathway. This pathway allows the stem cells’ surface receptors to take in signals and transform into the necessary cell type. The type of chemical used on the cardiac progenitor cells determines what type of cardiac cell they will become.
Now that they have discovered a regeneration method for two of the heart’s three layers, the researchers, who published their study in Nature Biomedical Engineering, are looking for the correct mechanisms to trigger the cells to develop into endocardium cells, the heart’s innermost layer.
Eventually, these advances in stem cell technology could help doctors repair the damage done by heart attacks or heart disease by repairing the damaged heart walls.
Further research goals include the ability to regenerate or grow an entire human heart in a laboratory and to engineer new heart tissues for cardiac therapy.
Many Heart Conditions Can Lead to an Inability to Work
While heart attacks are common in the United States, the damage the attacks cause will vary. Some people develop cardiac disabilities that make working and earning a substantial income impossible. Other cardiac issues such as stroke, heart disease, and heart failure are all potential cases for Social Security disability benefits.
For more information on what types of heart conditions qualify for Social Security disability benefits and how to apply, call the Disability Help Group at 800-800-2009 to speak with our team of disability advocates.