An EU-funded project in Germany is looking at muscle regeneration following injury. Using advanced microscopy methods, scientists hope to determine the optimal conditions required for successful cell therapy.
A heart attack also known as myocardial infarction causes tissue necrosis due to prolonged ischaemia. New therapeutic approaches utilise cells to regenerate injured myocardium, however, with variable results. Only a small proportion of the administered cells actually engraft in the tissue, emphasising the need for a better understanding of the overall process.
Seeking to address this issue, the EU-funded 'Molecular imaging of the myocardium to facilitate cardiac stem cell therapy' (STEM CELL IMAGING) project set out to develop a molecular imaging platform for non-invasive monitoring of the mechanisms involved in myocardial repair. The idea is to visualise cell trafficking after therapy and to characterise the microenvironmental conditions required for optimal cell engraftment.
The project activities will focus on cellular metabolism, inflammation and tissue perfusion as prerequisites for cell therapy. To facilitate high-resolution imaging, researchers have installed PET-CT and SPECT-CT scanners which they hope to implement in clinical applications as well.
For evaluating the extent of inflammation they have used specific reagents immediately after myocardial cell injury and characterised the inflammatory events in the infarct region. By targeting specific molecules present on immune cells but absent from normal myocardium, scientists aim to devise a strategy for predicting cell recruitment and subsequent tissue regeneration.
The STEM CELL IMAGING consortium activities will provide unique insights into the process of myocardial regeneration. The new imaging techniques are expected to assist therapeutic decision making in the clinic and ultimately maximise therapeutic benefit on an individual basis.
Provided by Cordis