Stem cells were originally discovered in 1981, scientists found a way to derive embryonic stem cells from early mouse embryos. Another breakthrough discovery was made in 1998 that took stem cells from human embryos and grew them in a laboratory. Stem cells have the possibility to save hundreds of thousands of lives, scientist work every day experimenting and learning about the affects of heart disease, discovering answers to questions that may save lives, and being able to apply them into stem cell therapies.
Heart Disease, also known as cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one cause of death in America since the 1900s. Almost 2,600 people die of CVD in America each day, that’s roughly one person every 34 seconds. CVD is a disease that deprives heart tissue of oxygen, killing cardiac muscle cells, which can cause a formation of scar tissue, an overload of blood flow and pressure capacity. Scientists believe that restoring damaged heart muscle is the best option, and they can do this through repair or regeneration. Using embryonic and adult-derived stem cells is a very active area today. Possible sources for regenerating damaged heart tissue include embryonic stem cells, cardiac stem cells, myoblasts, adult bone marrow, endothelial progenitor cells, and umbilical cord blood cells. Small studies have been conducted in patients who are undergoing open-hear surgery. Stem cells are injected into the circulation or directly into the injured heart tissue. It has been shown to improve cardiac function or induced the formation of new capillaries. The stem cell populations that have been tested vary widely along with the conditions of their purification and application. Extensive research is still needed to assess the safety and improve the efficacy. These stem cells have the potential to one day repair damaged hearts.
Scientists are still asking questions and trying to understand fundamental properties of stem cells. Long-term self-renewal is still a topic scientist are still wondering about. They wonder why embryonic stem cells proliferate for a year or more in the laboratory without differentiating while most non-embryonic stem cells are unable to. Scientist believe that finding the answers may help them to understand how cell proliferating is regulated during normal embryonic development. Once they find that they can also study the abnormal cell division that leads to cancer. Another topic that scientist still have questions about is the adult stem cells. They wonder how many kinds of adult stem cells exist, and what tissues they exist in. How do they evolve during development? Do they have the capacity to transdifferentiate, and is it possible to control this process. These aren’t easy questions and they will need extensive time and research. In the beginning it took two decades to learn how to grow human