October 30, 2008

Fat Cells Might Aid Heart Attack Therapy

U.S. medical scientists say they see promise in using adipose-derived stromal cells as agents to help repair heart muscles damaged by a heart attack.

The University of Houston researchers led by Associate Professor Stanley Kleis say adipose-derived stromal cells, or ADSCs, are found in fatty tissue. When a person has a heart attack, the heart's cells do not get enough oxygen-rich blood, and some of them die, leaving behind damaged tissue. The researchers said ADSCs are similar to stem cells in that they can potentially develop into different types of cells, as well as producing chemicals that might protect or rejuvenate heart muscle.

"If we can show this conclusively, then we can develop a procedure that doctors can use to inject the cells into a heart attack patient's heart and can either protect or even help regrow the heart muscles," Kleis said.

"While several studies have reported therapeutic effects after injections of different types of stromal and stem cells, the common beneficial factor or factors remain unclear," Kleis said.

He said his team is planning additional studies to identify more precisely the mechanisms involved in reducing cell death using the ADSCs.