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Latest News About Cardiac Stem Cell Research

What is a stem cell?

Stem cells are essentially the building blocks of the body. They are undifferentiated cells, meaning they don’t have a specialized purpose, but the can develop into specialized cells. Stem cells have two defining properties. The first is the ability to reproduce itself many times through cell division, while maintaining an undifferentiated state. The second is its multipotency or multidifferentiative potential which is the ability to produce several different cell types as opposed to just one type. There are three types of stem cells. These are:

  • Embryonic stem cells-Stem cells found within the embryo, the fetus or the umbilical cord blood. Depending on when they are harvested embryonic stem cells can produce almost any cell in the human body.
  • Adult stem cells-Adult stem cells are found in infants, children and adults, and are found in already developed tissue such as the heart, brain and kidneys. They can produce different types of cells but only in the resident organ
  • Induced pluripotent stem cells (IPSC)-These are stem cells that don’t occur naturally. They are adult differentiated cells that have been altered into a stem-cell like state. Shinya Yamanaka and Sir John Gurdon were awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize “for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent.”

Cardiac stem cell research

There are currently many programs involved in cardiac stem cell research around the world. The majority of these programs are investigating using a cardiac stem cell to regenerate damaged heart tissue. Congestive heart failures most common cause is due to damage of heart muscle due to heart attack. It is hoped that the hearts ability to pump blood efficiently can be restored in many instances through methods developed in cardiac stem cell research, The results of recent testing show that blood flow can be increased, but there is some debate as to whether regenerated tissue is actually heart tissue or blood vessel tissue. Stem cell therapy for cardiac disease is still very much in the research stage but advances are being made. Research is also being done using stem cells taken from heart disease patients to better understand the disease and develop new drugs using the information gained. Besides, you may know more about cardiology fellowship on our site.

Fellowships in cardiac stem cell research

Many of the institutions that have programs involving cardiac stem cell research or cardiac electrophysiology fellowship offer fellowships in cardiology sub-specialties, with a focus on research as opposed to public practice. As with almost all fellowships in the field, applicants must have already completed a three year ACGME accredited cardiovascular disease course before beginning a fellowship. Those interested in fellowships related to cardiac stem cell research may have a specific program they are interested in. The American Medical Association has an online database, the Fellowship and Residency Electronic Interactive Database or FREIDA, which contains over 9500 graduate medical education programs that are ACGME accredited, and fellowships involving cardiac stem cell research can be researched there.