"Before this study, it was not known if it is possible to produce sufficient numbers of these cells and successfully use them to remuscularize damaged hearts in a large animal whose heart size and physiology is similar to that of the human heart," says Dr. Charles Murry, professor of pathology, bioengineering and medicine at UW and leader of the research team.
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The findings demonstrate an ability to produce these cells on an unprecedented scale and hold great potential for restoring functionally of damaged human hearts.
The researchers were exploring ways of restoring human hearts damaged by myocardial infarctions, a common type of heart attack that blocks major arteries and prevents oxygen from reaching the heart muscle. This lack of oxygen in turn causes damage to the muscle tissue and impacts the ability of the heart to pump blood. The researchers are aiming to restore these hearts to full functionality using cells grown from human embryonic stem cells.
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