The Cell study was conducted in Dr. Anversa's laboratory by a team led by Dr. Anversa, Bernardo Nadal-Ginard, M.D., Ph.D., Annarosa Leri, M.D., and Jan Kajstura, Ph.D. "Until recently, the accepted paradigm in cardiac biology considered the adult mammalian heart a post-mitotic organ without regenerative capacity...that from shortly after birth to adulthood and senescence the heart has a relatively stable but slowly diminishing number of myocytes [heart muscle cells]...Evidence challenging the accepted wisdom has been slowly accumulating," they wrote.
Dr. Anversa's investigation of heart failure has produced mounting evidence the heart can repair itself, debunking the notion that stem cells can be isolated only from adult tissues such as blood, skin, central nervous system, liver, gastrointestinal tract and skeletal muscle. In the current Cell paper, he and his colleagues utilized special cells isolated from adult rat hearts that have all the properties of cardiac progenitor cells. They injected an enriched mixture of the cells into ischemic hearts, where they gave rise to new myocytes as well as smooth muscle and endothelial cells that were structurally and functionally competent.
"We have already identified where the stem cells reside and are developing strategies to mobilize them to migrate to the damaged cardiac site...In time we will be developing Phase I clinical trial protocols for submission to the FDA," Dr. Anversa advises.