Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Future of Cardiovascular Disorder Treatment: Stem Cell Research

American Heart Association (AHA) Policy
The American Heart Association funds meritorious research involving human adult stem cells as part of our scientific research grant program. We do not fund any research involving stem cells derived from human embryos or fetal tissue.
The American Heart Association recognizes the value of all types of stem cell research and supports federal funding of this research. We are committed to supporting medical and scientific research to help us pursue our mission of reducing death and disability from cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
To stay abreast of the benefits and challenges in the area of human stem cell research the American Heart Association Research Committee annually monitors scientific activity in the area and periodically assesses current scientific opinion on the potential impact of embryonic and adult stem cell research on CVD [cardiovascular disease] and stroke.

What are stem cells, and how can they be used?
Stem cells are specialized cells within the body that have the potential to develop into one or many kinds of cells. Stem cells potentially
“Stem Cell Research,” reprinted with permission. © 2009 American Heart Association, Inc. (
could treat or cure many diseases and conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, certain heart diseases, stroke, arthritis, certain birth defects, osteoporosis, spinal cord injury, and burns.
There are essentially two types of human stem cells—embryonic and adult. In order for a stem cell to differentiate into a specialized cell type, such as a cardiac or brain cell, the stem cell must achieve a “pluripotent” state. Pluripotent stem cells can potentially develop into any kind of cell in the body and come from three sources:
• fetal tissue from miscarriages and abortions;
• embryos created for in vitriol fertility treatments but not selected for implantation;
• adult cells that have been reprogrammed to embryonic stem cell-like state.
The American Heart Association funds meritorious research involving human adult stem cells.
Adult stem cells are found in a many organs and tissues. An adult stem cell is an undifferentiated cell found among differentiated cells in a tissue or organ, can renew itself, and can differentiate to yield the major specialized cell types of the tissue or organ. The primary roles of adult stem cells in a living organism are to maintain and repair the tissue in which they are found. In their original state they have less ability than embryonic stem cells to differentiate into other types of cells.
Until recently, it was thought that only embryonic stem cells were pluripotent. However, recent research has developed a way to successfully induce adult stem cells into a pluripotent state, which has the potential to create patient-specific cell therapies that could reduce many of the underlying complications seen in therapies with embryonic stem cells.
Even though this new method of inducing adult stem cells could provide an alternative to use of embryonic stem cells, it is still important for research to continue in both cell types. In order to know how induced adult stem cells need to perform, we must know more about the innate function of embryonic stem cells. Therefore, to bring effective and safe stem cell based therapies into reality, research on both cell types continues to be important.
What is the importance of stem cell research to cardiovascular disease and stroke?
Stem cell research offers great promise to treat or cure many diseases and conditions. It could be used to develop dramatic new procedures and techniques to reverse degenerative heart disease. For example, it may help generate new, healthy heart tissue, valves and other vital tissues and structures. About 128 million people suffer from diseases that might be cured or treated through stem cell research. About 58 million of these people suffer from cardiovascular disease.
New discoveries in the field also show potential for being able to study the origins of disease, which could lead to new knowledge related to CVD and stroke prevention. Also, the development of cardiac cells from stem cells provides the unique opportunity for researchers to test new drugs on actual human tissue rather than in animals.


Post a Comment