Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Among the Scars

Understanding more about cardiac muscle cell regeneration from stem cells after injury

21 January 2019

Among the Scars

Searching for ways to rescue damaged hearts, scientists have come to different conclusions – some believe cardiac stem cells (CSCs) could be coaxed to 'heal' heart tissue. But after looking for CSCs in mouse heart tissue like this, other researchers struggled to find a trace – questioning whether these cells exist at all. Instead, they focus on cardiac fibroblasts (shown here in red) – connective tissue cells which form a 'scar' after a heart attack. Scar tissue is often seen as a threat, as it gels damaged cardiac muscle together, despite not being able to beat itself. Yet heathy scarring could be essential to sealing gaps left by dying heart cells (green). Further research may suggest ways to guide scar tissue growth after a heart attack, or possibly ways to use transplanted stem cells to help keep this vital organ beating.

Written by John Ankers

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