Circulation:Human pluripotent stem cells are used to produce pericytes that repair damaged blood ves

The researchers, from the technion-israel Institute of Technology's Rappaport Faculty of Medicine and Rambam Medical Center, used embryonic stem cells and reprogrammed adult stem cells to produce, for the first time, cells called pericytes, which can proliferate. And plays a key role in healthy angiogenesis. The breakthrough could eventually benefit patients struggling to recover from cardiovascular disease or severe circulatory damage caused by diseases such as diabetes.

A team led by professor Joseph itskovitz-eldor, director of the Berlin Family Laboratory for Stem Cell Research at the Israeli institute of technology, and Dr Ayelet dar-oaknin, then injected these pericytes into the leg muscles of mice that were damaged and whose blood flow was almost completely blocked.

In just three weeks, these pericytes can rebuild functional vascular systems and even regenerate muscles damaged by a lack of oxygen supply. These results hold great promise for treating tissue damage in patients suffering from heart or vascular disease and a host of other conditions.

Rafael Beyar, director of the rieben medical center and former director of the rabaport school of medicine, said the findings have "tremendous medical potential." but there is still a long way to go "for patients, he said, and people may" not have to wait too long."

Pericytes, the focus of the research, are produced from embryonic stem cells (from donated fertilised eggs) and from adult stem cells that have been genetically reprogrammed to become "pluripotent". Because pericytes are constructed from patients' own stem cells, they can be transplanted and heal damaged tissue without the risk of rejection.

Professor itskovitz-eldor is director of obstetrics and gynecology at rippon medical Center and director of the Forman Families Center for Excellence in the stem cell laboratory and the Forman Families Center for Excellence in research on stem cells and tissue regeneration at the iit.

The findings are published recently in Circulation, a journal of the American heart association.
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