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A course of drug treatment to boost the production of stem cells in bone marrow may lead to better treatment for heart disease.
Research by British scientists, funded by the British Heart Foundation and Wellcome Trust charities, is reported in the journal Cell Stem Cell.
It shows that bone marrow can be persuaded to direct a stream of stem cells to specific parts of the body, and may eventually be used to mend damaged hearts.
Mice given the growth factor VEGF and the drug mozobil generated 100 times more endothelial and mesenchymal stem cells than they did without the treatment. The factor G-CSF produced haematopoietic cells.
Mesenchymal cells make cartilage and bone, endothelial cells build blood vessels and haematopoietic cells develop into blood cells, which are already used by doctors carrying out bone-marrow transplants.
Dr Sara Rankin, from the National Heart & Lung Institute, said: “We hope that by releasing extra stem cells we could potentially call up extra numbers of whichever stem cells the body needs, in order to boost its ability to mend itself and accelerate the repair process.
“Our work could lead to new treatments to fight various diseases and injuries which work by mobilising a person’s own stem cells from within.”
Copyright Press Association 2009