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Issue:- 8 November  2012

Study reveals intense exercise could trigger new heart muscle cells

NEW research funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) suggests exercise could stimulate dormant stem cells in the heart to trigger the formation of new heart muscle cells, providing hope for a possible new approach to mend damaged hearts.

The team of researchers at The Stem Cell & Regenerative Biology Unit (Biostem) at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) have shown in healthy rats that regular exercise can increase the size of the heart and stimulate the formation of new heart muscle cells.

The paper published in the October issue of European Heart Journal showed in rats that exercise stimulates ‘endogenous cardiac stem cells’ (eCSCs) - a special type of adult stem cells in the heart. These cells are usually dormant in the adult heart. Following 2 weeks of intense exercise the researchers found eCSCs were activated and appeared to give rise to new blood vessel and heart muscle cells

Dr Georgina Ellison, who led the research, suggests the observed changes are a result of exercise stimulating increased levels of certain growth factors; naturally occurring substances that can influence cell growth or differentiation.

The BioStem team hopes to use this information to develop and inform future treatments that can be used in the prevention and treatment of heart disease and failure.

LJMU’s Dr Georgina Ellison who led the study commented:- “Everyone knows the benefits of exercise to maintain a healthy heart. Our research suggests there may also be a role for physical activity in regeneration of the heart. If we can pin-point the key growth factors involved in the growth and maintenance of the heart, we hope that one day we could translate this information to the clinic. The eventual aim of our research is to develop a mixture of growth factors to give to patients with heart disease to ‘activate’ their cardiac stem cells and regenerate the damaged tissue.”

BHF Associate Medical Director Professor Jeremy Pearson said:- “This study adds to the growing evidence that adult hearts may be able to make new muscle from dormant stem cells. This research supports the hope of our Mending Broken Hearts Appeal that scientists will be able to design ways that, for the first time, will genuinely help to mend failing hearts. However, much more research is now needed to find out whether what’s been seen in this study can be translated into treatments for human patients.”

For more information about the BHF’s Mending Broken Hearts Appeal visit:-


A holiday home that is only used for a few weeks a year is very different to a holiday home that is occupied for most of the year in terms of its economic benefits to any locality says GMB.  They are now calling for local authorities to be given powers to levy taxes on underused holiday homes and also to be able to compulsory purchase them in areas with acute housing need. This follows the publication last month of the 2011 Census returns which showed that there were a total of 14,275 residents with a holiday home in one of the 39 local council areas in the North West who do not usually live in that council area. 6,534 of these usually live in other regions of the UK outside the North West. There are 4,684 residents who reside outside of South Lakeland who have a holiday home within South Lakeland. In South Lakeland there are 4,684 residents from outside the area with a holiday home in the area. This was the highest number for any area in the region. There are 45 people with holiday homes in South Lakeland for every 1,000 residents of South Lakeland. Next was Eden with 1,865 residents having holiday homes followed by Allerdale 1,535, Lancaster 1,406, Fylde 875, Wyre 751, Copeland 385, Ribble Valley 313, Cheshire West & Chester 298 Blackpool 280 Cheshire East and 219 Sefton 202.  At the time of the 2011 Census, 165,095 residents had a holiday home within England & Wales that was for holiday use. There were also 8,181 residents with a 2nd holiday address in Scotland or Northern Ireland.  These figures come from a new analysis by GMB of the latest available data from the 2011 Census which was published on 22 October 2012 for the number of residents with a holiday home in a local authority who are usually resident outside of that local authority.   Paul McCarthy, GMB Regional Secretary said:- “There are 14,275 people who have holiday homes in the 39 local council areas in the North West.  In many areas urgent action is needed to ascertain if properties used as holiday homes are actually in use at all. A holiday home that is only used for a few weeks a year is very different to a holiday home that is occupied for most of the year in terms of its economic benefits to any locality.  A holiday home that is used only a few weeks a year at a time when there are families in bed and breakfast accommodation gives rise to fundamental questions on the role and power of the local authority on the use of residential property in its area.  GMB consider that, under the Localism Act, local councils should have the power to levy taxation on underused holiday homes and other empty properties. In areas with acute housing need the question should be able to the raised in the council chamber as to whether underused houses should be subject to compulsory purchase.”   Is this idea by the GMB a step to far.  Are they going to far?  Do they want a Communist State when saying things like "compulsory purchase" and who is to say if a home is "underused"?  What are your views on this?  Email us today what you think about the GMB's statement and let us know if you support them or not!  Our newsroom email address is

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