Stem cells in old tissues are less active than stem cells in young tissues, meaning a lesser supply of cells to maintain the tissue, and a consequent slow loss of function. The evidence to date suggest that a sizable part of this decline is a reaction to rising levels of tissue damage and the changing balance of cell signaling that results from that damage. There is certainly damage occurring to stem cells themselves, but that doesn’t appear to contribute to as great a degree until very late in life. This means that it is feasible to think about ways to force stem cells to get back to work, to rejuvenate their behavior if not their level of intrinsic damage, and assess the benefits against the potential risks, such as a higher rate of cancer. The stem cell therapies of the past few decades suggest that this cancer risk is lower than was expected, that evolution has left us more wiggle room for therapeutic enhancement of stem cell activity in the old than it might have done.
Ischemic heart disease affects a majority of people, especially elderly patients. Recent
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