Precursor Cells Generated From Human Embryonic Stem Cells Show Ability to Repair Vascular Damage

Scientists reported for the first time that hemangioblast precursor cells derived from human embryonic stem (hES) cells can be used to achieve vascular repair.

The research, which appears today online (ahead of print) in the journal Nature Methods, by Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) and its collaborators, describes an efficient method for generating large numbers of bipotential progenitors–known as hemangioblasts–from hES cells that are capable of differentiating into blood vessels, as well as into all blood and immune cell lineages.

“The ability to repair vascular damage using these cells could have a profound impact on a large number of diseases that are major human afflictions,” said Robert Lanza, M.D., Vice President of Research & Scientific Development at ACT, and senior author of the study. “Our results suggest the possibility of using nature’s early cellular developmental components to restore vascularization and function in patients with vascular disease. An injection of these cells may be able to prevent a patient from having a leg amputated or from dying after a heart attack.”

“We have developed for the first time a simple and highly scalable source of human hemangioblasts,” stated Shi-Jiang Lu, Ph.D., Director of Differentiation at ACT and first author of the paper. “These proprietary cells represent a new and distinctly different population of cells that can be differentiated into vascular structures and multiple hematopoietic cell types. The elimination of serum and other animal components from the system, as well as the ability to generate an unlimited supply of these cells, will be important for future preclinical and human studies.”

When the cells were injected into animals that had damage to their retina due to diabetes or ischemia-reperfusion injury (lack of adequate blood flow) of the retina, the cells homed to the site of injury and showed robust reparative function of the entire damaged vasculature within 24-48 hours. The cells showed a similar regenerative capacity in animal models of both myocardial infarction (50% reduction in mortality rate) and hind limb ischemia, with restoration of blood flow to near normal levels.

“These cells were able to generate functional blood vessels in the presence of severe tissue injury, as well as in chronic disease states,” says Maria Grant, M.D., Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Florida, and an author on the paper. “These cells have a robust vascular reparative ability under what is typically considered very adverse growth conditions making them potentially ideal for treatment of diabetic vascular complications where profound tissue compromise exists and healing is typically severely compromised.”

“While the cells in this study were tested in animal models, we believe this breakthrough has the potential to benefit many Americans suffering from vascular disease,” stated William M. Caldwell, IV, Chairman and CEO of Advanced Cell Technology. “ACT is committed to moving this technology from the laboratory into the clinic. We plan on filing an Investigational New Drug Application with the Food and Drug Administration for the first clinical application of these cells by the end of next year.”

Souce: Advanced Cell Technology press release

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