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Stem Cells Show Promise in Healing Damaged Hearts
Date:11/14/2011

uals who were undergoing bypass surgery to re-open blocked arteries. The cells were taken from undamaged areas of the heart, purified, harvested and then injected back into the patients' hearts four months later.

And it worked. Dr. Roberto Bolli of the University of Louisville and colleagues report that the therapy improved heart function for 16 people with heart failure who received an infusion of their own cardiac stem cells. What's more, the scars on their hearts are healing, the study showed.

"This is more promising in terms of the magnitude of the effect than what we are seeing with bone marrow stem cells," said one expert, Dr. Kenneth B. Margulies, a professor of medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Still, he cautioned that the research is in its infancy, and more studies are needed. Right now, this procedure is for patients who are in the throes of a heart attack, he noted. "We are getting more bang for the effort when this is not done in the middle of crisis," he said.

While more study is needed to understand the best ways to use the different types of stem cells after a heart attack, they will both likely have a big role in preventing or reversing damage after a heart attack in the future, Simari said.

"In the next 10 to 15 years, these stem cells will be an off-the-shelf sell. We won't need to harvest them and can take them off the shelf and deliver them at that time or soon thereafter," he said. He conjectured that one healthy donor could provide thousands of doses.

More information

There's more on heart attack at the American Heart Association.

SOURCES: Joshua M. Hare, M.D., director, the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; Kenneth B. Margulies, M.D., professor,
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