The prospect of cell-based therapy in cardiovascular regenerative medicine comes a step closer with the demonstration that a peptide can stimulate a progenitor cell population in the adult heart to act as a source of new cardiomyocytes. The stem or progenitor cells, thought to be derived from the epicardium, are activated by the small actin monomer binding protein thymosin β4, which has previously been shown to restore vascular potential to adult epicardium-derived progenitor cells after injury. The discovery of a resident source of myocardial progenitors will stimulate a search for small molecules and other factors that promote optimal progenitor activation and replacement of destroyed myocardium.
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