• Cardiovascular

    In the Loop: Adult stem cells as treatment of the future

When it comes to medical treatments, what sounds like science fiction today could someday become the standard in life-changing medicine. If the research turns out as hoped, stem cells — the "master cells" inside our bodies from which all other cells are generated and formed — could potentially become the leading treatment option in the fight against pretty much everything that ails us.   

According to a story by U.S. News & World Report, researchers, including those at Mayo Clinic's Rochester and Florida campuses, are taking a good, hard look at whether stem cell therapy could heal or even replace parts of the body damaged by disease, illness or injury.

Writer Stacey Colino notes that the cells in question are not embryonic stem cells, but rather adult stem cells found in our own bone marrow, fat and skin. "These 'master cells,'" she writes, "operate as a kind of internal repair system because they can replicate in a continuous fashion to replenish other cells or morph into cells with specialized functions."

It's become increasingly clear, Atta Behfar, M.D., Ph.D., a cardiologist and director of Mayo Clinic's Van Cleve Cardiac Regenerative Medicine program, tells Colino, that adult stem cells have the ability to "teach the body to heal from within." For example, Dr. Behfar tells Colino that adult stem cells injected into a heart damaged by heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest won't "serve as the brick and mortar" to repair that damaged heart. But the "proteins and other substances" the stem cells secrete "tell your body to heal." Read the rest of the article.
This story originally appeared on the In the Loop blog. 

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