There is an urgent need for therapies that regenerate damaged heart tissue to recover cardiac function. Of the many approaches, stem cell therapies are highly promising as they release a multitude of regenerative factors in response to injury.
However, while promising cell therapies have been clinically trialled for almost two decades, no cell therapies have been clinically approved to treat cardiovascular disease. This is largely a result of poor cell engraftment at sites of injury, preventing their therapeutic function.
We study novel stem cell therapies and develop materials-based delivery strategies to enhance their function in vivo. In a recent study published in Bioscience Reports (Clayton et al, 2018), we showed that a new stem cell known as induced pluripotent stem cell-derived endothelial cells (iPSC-ECs) can be made from adult skin cells. We demonstrated that these new stem cells can heal wounds faster by stimulating the formation of regenerative vascular networks.
From this work we developed a patch that can be loaded with iPSC-ECs and implanted into damaged tissue to enhance their regenerative effects. In this study, published in Stem Cell Research & Therapy (Tan et al, 2018), these ‘bio-patches’ helped to improve the engraftment of iPSC-ECs in wounded tissue, allowing them to conduct their therapeutic functions. Investigation of new cell therapies and customised delivery strategies bring new hope that effective stem cell therapy could soon reach the patient’s bedside.