Stem cell patches can grow new heart tissue

Using a patient’s own stem cells, scientistis can replace certain areas of damaged heart tissue. Using bone marrow taken from the hip. doctors isolate stem cells, and in a new study, they plan to inject 30 million of them into one patient’s heart (the 6th in the country to receive this treatment). Chief of Cardiology at the Texas Heart Institute says some of the stem cells become new blood vessels, some new heart muscle cells. “Other cells fuse, latch onto existent heart muscle cells in sort of a blob and they exchange nuclear material.” Doctors believe this fusion process allows the injected cell to rescue the injured cell. In Tokyo researchers pulled stem cells from a leg muscle and grew a cardiac patch.

This is great news for potential heart transplant patients who may eventually not have to undergo the invasive procedure. But for those with other types of heart disease, such as problems with valves, this work gives hope that one day their own stem cells might help heal or even replace the dysfunctional parts.

Wow. This truly gives new meaning to the old admonition “Heal thyself”…