AHA logoResearchers have introduced stem cell therapies to treat various ailments since a long time. To further enhance this, a research undertaken by the Keio University School of Medicine in Tokyo claims to have discovered a unique and non – controversial source of stem cells that may develop heart muscle cells that aid in treating heart damage. They apparently regulated the amniotic membrane which appears in the inner lining of the sac developing an embryo.

This enabled them to acquire the stem cells called human amniotic membrane from the mesenchymal (undifferentiated) cells (hAMCs). The scientists enlightened that the amniotic membrane is medical waste that could be collected and used after delivery. The experiment revealed that the hAMCs converted into heart muscle cells and showed a 33 percent spontaneous beating.

“If we had to create a cell bank system to cover every HLA type, we would need to store a great amount of cells, many of which would never be used. Because hAMCs do not require such a system, it would be less expensive and usable for all patients,” quoted Shunichiro Miyoshi, M.D., Ph.D., co-author of the research and assistant professor in the cardiology department and Institute for Advanced Cardiac Therapeutics at the Keio University School of Medicine in Tokyo.

When the rats were injected two weeks after a heart attack, the hAMCs boosted the function of hearts in rats by 34 percent to 39 percent. But the investigators discovered a decline in the function of untreated hearts. After injecting, a total of 13 percent to 18 percent damaged rat hearts seemingly noted a decrease in the scarred area.

Although the rats were deprived of the immunosuppressive medication, the hAMCs were claimed to have continued to live for more than four weeks in the rats’ heart. It should be noted that the hAMCs did not appear to be rejected by the recipient’s immune system. The scientists believe that hAMCs is much more beneficial than mesenchymal cells achieved from bone marrow or fat.

The investigators explained that the rejection of implanted cells did not take place possibly due to the amniotic sac, acting as a barrier between a woman and her developing fetus. The immune systems refuse to produce the proteins that help identify foreign tissue thus preventing them from attacking.

The research affirmed that the usual tissue-type matching (HLA typing) will not be needed while using hAMCs. Apart from this the investigators shared that after the transplant the patient may not essentially consume drugs suppressing the immune system. The hAMCs can apparently distinguish between cells of various organs and further experiments will be conducted before applying the same on humans.

The research is published in the Circulation Research: Journal of the American Heart Association.