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06 - 07 - 2018

Stroke: Human pluripotent cells improve recovery of heart function in macaque

A macaque study confirms the value of pluripotent cell transplants for heart repair after strokes and encourages further research in this area.



The heart regenerates badly after a stroke which causes scars to appear and the loss of contractility that can lead to heart failure.


To achieve regeneration rather than healing, researchers are studying the transplantation of pluripotent cardiac cells derived from human stem cells (hESC-CM). These cells are cultured in vitro and then injected intravenously into the injured areas of the myocardium.


In the mouse, rat and guinea pig, cardiac function was improved. In the macaque, a species closer to humans, remuscularization of the myocardium was observed but transient ventricular arrhythmias were also observed, an effect that had not been observed in rodents.


The study published this week looked at whether hESC-CMs could restore contractile function in macaque, and whether the cause of the arrhythmias could be discovered. Approximately 750 million cells or a placebo were injected into each of the nine macaques in the study who had previously had a standard-mode stroke.


This study showed that:

             - The hESC-CM graft in the macaque greatly improves the recovery of cardiac function to a level higher than that observed in rodents. The reason is probably the greater phylogenetic proximity of the macaque model.

             - arrhythmias was observed in particular in an animal. It is not related to a conduction abnormality of the regenerated tissue, but to a pulse focus or pacemaker type activity. It will be necessary to find a way to master this type of side effect if it should appear in patients.





In conclusion, this study encourages the work, which should lead to medical cell transplants in people with strokes.