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Menstrual blood can repair hearts

28th April 2008

Menstrual blood, according to researchers in Japan, can be used to repair heart damage.

stemcell1

The blood contains cells that can act like stem cells, and a research team from Keio University cultivated these cells in menstrual blood from nine women over a month.

They then put the cells together with cells from the hearts of rats in vitro, and found that around 20% of the cells began beating spontaneously, eventually forming sheet-like heart muscle tissue.

Cardiologist Shunichiro Miyoshi from the university's school of medicine said the results were 100 times better than the 0.2-0.3% success rate for stem cells taken from human bone marrow.

And in separate experiments on rats that had suffered heart attacks, researchers found that the animals' condition improved after they received the cells derived from menstrual blood.

But while the rats in the study showed improvements like increased power of contraction in their hearts, more work is still needed before the work is ready for clinical use.

Miyoshi said further work was needed to find the definitive factor that turns the cells into a heart.

Miyoshi said that while the connective cells harvested from menstrual blood were not stem cells in the strictest sense which could turn into any cell in the body, they had a propensity to form muscle tissue.

This suggested another possible application for the cells in future treatments for muscular dystrophy, he said.

The age of donor women does not seem to affect the capability of the cells.

Women may eventually be able to use their own menstrual blood for their own treatment, Miyoshi said, adding that cells can be stored for a long time in a tube the size of a finger and cultivated when necessary.

Large numbers of the cells can be stored in small test tubes for hundreds of years, creating a stockpile of the cells, which might contain different types of human leukocyte antigens, or HLAs, a crucial component of the human immune system.

The study was carried out jointly between Keio University and the National Institute for Child Health and Development, and was published in the online edition of the journal Stem Cell.

Stem cells can potentially be used to help replace damaged or diseased cells, tissues and organs.

Adult stem cells can derive from such organs as bone marrow but it requires painful, invasive procedures.


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Article Information

Title: Menstrual blood can repair hearts
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 6508
Date Added: 28th Apr 2008

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