Magnet may heal damaged arteries & diseased heart

Scientists have devised a way to steer healing stem cells through the body towards diseased arteries using magnets. Stem cells were tagged with microscope magnetic particles & then injected into the bloodstream. Doctors used a magnet outside the body to guide the cells into position, allowing them to repair & restore damaged blood vessels.

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Dr. Mark Lythgoe said, “The technique could be used to repair everything from damaged arteries to diseased heart & livers. It is feasible heart attacks & other vascular injuries could eventually be treated using regular injections of magnetized stem cells. The technology could be adapted to place cells in other organs & provide a useful tool for the systemic injection of all kinds of cell therapies.”

Stem cells are the body's default cells which can grow into any kind of tissue. The UCL team turned stem cells found in bone marrow into nanomagnets by mixing them with particles of iron oxide. The particles are only 50 millionths of a millimetre across, so they can be absorbed without causing damage.

The tagged cells were then injected into the bloodstream of rats suffering artery damage & guided into the rats' necks using a magnet. Afterwards there were five times more stem cells at the damaged site than if ordinary stem cells had been injected. Magnets have been used to guide cells before, but the UCL team say this is the first method that can be easily adapted to human patients.

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