Kenneth Pettine: Fueling Stem Cell Research

Stem cells are the new horizon of medicine. Stem cells will change the ways we treat diseases. Remember the promises of stem cells issued by doctors and researchers in the early 1990s? Unfortunately, progress has been slow since then, but doctors are once again on the cusp of making some breakthroughs.

The new Fountain of Youth study, published in the European Heart Journal, demonstrated the cardiac (heart) stem cells harvested from the bodies of younger rats could help reverse the signs and symptoms of aging when injected into older or failing hearts of rats. The older rats seem to be rejuvenated after the injections and researchers are seeing other positive signs rather than improved heart function. The injected rat's fur grew back much rapidly than expected and their chromosomal telomeres, a compound that is known to shrink with age lengthened in injected rats. Lastly, the injected rats displayed a stamina not seen before the injections and spent much more time on the exercise wheel.

"It's extremely exciting," said Dr. Eduardo Marbn, primary investigator on the research and director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Dr. Kenneth Pettine Institute. Witnessing "the systemic rejuvenating effects," he said, "it's kind of like an unexpected fountain of youth."

During the experiments, the team at Cedars-Sinai harvested cardiosphere-derived stem cells from the hearts of infant rats and injected them into the hearts off 22-old-month rats. 22 months is pretty old in rat years. The team plans to expand on their results and figure out other ways these cells can be used in restorative and regenerative therapies.

Other Ways Stem Cells Reverse Aging

Millions of Americans are saddled with degenerative conditions that come with age like osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease. Like the doctors performing research on cardiac stem cells, Dr. Kenneth Pettine of Northern Colorado has also been working on the use of mesenchymal stem cells to restore the youth to tissue ravaged by degenerative disease. Pettine has led over a dozen FDA trials dealing with stem cells, biologics, and other types of regenerative medicine that are seeing the promises of stem cells come true.

Decades ago the potential for stem cells was in our face, and now stem cells are back in the spotlight. This time around the research of teams like Kenneth Pettine's and those at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute looks much closer to realizing the promises and putting stem cells to use for all Americans.

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