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Advances in health and medicine.
Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
General Health Channel
Reported October 22, 2012

Stem Cell Breakthrough May Treat Vascular Disorders

(Ivanhoe Broadcast)—Since its inception, stem cell research has been teeming with promise for an assortment of medical ailments—regenerated mice livers are the latest success milestone on the road to patient implementation. Researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College are studying the critters to evaluate the use of amniotic-fluid-derived cells in the treatment of vascular disorders and disease.

Healthy vascular endothelial cells (VECs), more commonly known as circulatory system cells, play a critical role in the formation of new blood vessels as well as the regeneration and repair of damaged organs. Doctors hope to use healthy VECs from amniotic fluid to replace injured or dysfunctional cells.

"Currently, there is no treatment available for a broad range of patients with vascular diseases, including patients who have suffered heart attack, stroke, lung diseases, trauma, emphysema, or even diabetes and neurological disorders," senior study author Shahin Rafii said in a previously prepared statement. "Replacing injured or dysfunctional endothelial cells with normal cultured endothelial cells could potentially provide for a novel therapy to treat these diseases that afflict millions of patients worldwide."

But for VECs, the proof is in the protein. Past studies indicate that VECs often convert to nonvascular cells and fail to replicate in quantities needed for clinical applications; Rafii’s team was able to overcome both of these obstacles. Large VEC amounts were safely collected from amniotic cell byproduct from routine amniocentesis and reprogrammed to ensure they remain stable VECs. The reprogrammed, mature VECs called rAC-VECs were genetically modified using protein transcription elements.

Rafii and his team analyzed the effectiveness of rAC-VECs by transplanting the cells into regenerating mice livers. The novel approach enabled the formation of stable, functional blood vessels.

"This major breakthrough will allow the use of endothelial cells for the treatment of numerous vascular disorders and may benefit a myriad of patients," Rafii said.

Source: Cell, a journal published by Cell Press

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