Researchers have used cardiac stem cells to regenerate heart muscle in patients who have suffered heart attacks, also known as myocardial infarction.
The small preliminary study, which was conducted by the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, involved 25 patients who had suffered heart attacks in the previous one and a half to three months.
Seventeen of the study subjects received infusions of stem cells cultured from a raisin-sized chunk of their own heart tissue, which had been removed via catheter. The eight others received standard care.
During a heart attack, heart tissue is damaged, leaving a scar. On average, scars in patients who had the stem cell infusions dropped in size from 24% to 12% of the heart, said Dr. Eduardo Marbán, director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and lead researcher on the study, which was published online Monday in the journal The Lancet. (The journal has provided an abstract of the study; subscription is required for the full text.)