Numerous previous studies have shown that adult stem cells can facilitate repair of damaged heart muscle. Now an Israeli team has developed a method to stimulate bone marrow adult stem cells to increase their ability to help restore heart function.

The new method uses laser-treated bone marrow adult stem cells to help restore heart function. The technique using low-level laser light is called "shining". In the mouse study to show the technique's effectiveness, the team shone laser light directly on bone marrow, and then tracked the bone marrow adult stem cells and the repair of the mouse hearts after treatment. They found that when the laser light was applied to bone marrow cells a few hours after a heart attack, heart scarring could be reduced by up to 80 percent. Mice that received the shining treatment also showed a significantly higher concentration of adult stem cells in the injured heart compared to mice that had not been treated with the laser light.

According to senior author Prof. Uri Oron:

"After we stimulate the cells with the laser and enhance their proliferation in the bone marrow, it's likely that more cells will migrate into the bloodstream. The cells that eventually reach the heart secrete growth factors to a higher extent, and new blood vessel formation is encouraged."

Prof. Oron sees this as a way to make cell therapy simpler. Since there is no need to remove stem cells from the body, this treatment stimulates a whole variety of stem cells to help heal the body. Prof. Oron believes this method could also be beneficial for repair of other organs such as the kidney or the liver. He and his colleagues have also done a series of studies to show that the technique is safe, and are ready to begin clinical trials soon.

The study was recently reported in the journal Lasers in Surgery and Medicine.