New methods of regenerating the heart muscle after following infarction are currently under intense investigation. In June 1 Journal of Clinical Investigation Kathyjo Jackson and colleagues from the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas show that haematopoietic stem cells are capable of migrating to ischaemic cardiac muscle and blood vessels where they differentiate into cardiomyocytes and endothelial cells.

Jackson et al. transplanted highly enriched haematopoietic stem cells (known as side population), into irradiated mice that subsequently had their descending coronary artery occluded and then reperfused. They found that the engrafted cells or their progeny migrated into ischaemic cardiac muscle and blood vessels, differentiated to cardiomyocytes and endothelial cells, and contributed to the formation of functional tissue (J Clin Invest 2001, 107:1395-1402).

These results confirm previous suggestions that stem cells derived from adult tissues have differentiation plasticity and identify a particular subpopulation of cells with therapeutic potential in...

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