Posted on Jul 18, 2019, 7 p.m.
A previously unidentified cell population in the pericardial fluid found within the sac around the heart has been identified in a collaborative study at the University of Calgary which may lead to new treatments for those with injured hearts, as published in the journal Immunity.
Discovered in the pericardial fluid of a mouse with heart injury, a Gata6+ pericardial cavity macrophage cell was found to help heal injured hearts in mice; the same cells were also found within human pericardium of those with injured hearts, confirming the repair cells offer promise of a new therapy for patients with heart disease.
"The fuel that powered this study is the funding from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, the collaboration between two major research institutes at CSM (Snyder and Libin) and the important contribution of philanthropy from the Libin and Snyder families to obtain imaging equipment available to very few programs globally," says Dr. Paul Kubes.
"Our discovery of a new cell that can help heal injured heart muscle will open the door to new therapies and hope for the millions of people who suffer from heart disease. We always knew that the heart sits inside a sac filled with a strange fluid. Now we know that this pericardial fluid is rich with healing cells. These cells may hold the secret to repair and regeneration of new heart muscle. The possibilities for further discovery and innovative new therapies are exciting and important," says Dr. Paul Fedak.
Heart doctors have never explored the possibility of cells outside of the heart participating in healing and repair of the heart after injury; working together in collaboration to bring expertise across disciplines these cells were identified in under 3 years, which is relatively quick to move research from the lab and animal models to people.
Next there are hopes of exploring a broader study of human heart repair, and to extend the collaboration between basic and clinical research to find new potential therapies to help improve heart repair.
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