"Mend Broken Hearts" Stem Cell Research Launched

Deborah Shipley's picture
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Just in time for Valentine's Day, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) launched the 50 million pound ($80 million) research money to "mend broken hearts" using stem cells.

The British Heart Foundation is England's leading heart charity and the scientists for the study are hoping to give stem cells in the heart the ability to regenerate tissue, repair damage, and combat heart failure.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH):

"A stem cell has the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body during early life and growth. In addition, in many tissues they serve as a sort of internal repair system, dividing essentially without limit to replenish other cells as long as the person or animal is still alive. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential either to remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell."

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The scientists at the BHF are looking to zebrafish, and other animals, which are able to regrow a portion of their own hearts if they are damaged.

The scientists launched their "mending broken hearts" campaign at a briefing in London by saying that research into stem cells and developmental biology may make it possible for people to mend their own hearts in the future.

Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the BHF says,"Scientifically, mending human hearts is an achievable goal and we really could make recovering from a heart attack as simple as getting over a broken leg."

Weissberg also noted if the research proved to be successful, it could one day reduce or even eliminate the need for heart transplants for patients whose hearts are damaged.

The British Heart Foundation website is asking for additional public donations with their slogan: "He's not just a fish. He's Hope. This zebrafish can heal his own heart. With your help, maybe we can heal ours too." Visit the BHF website for more information and to make a donation at :http://www.bhf.org.uk/

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