Getting the Heart to Repair Itself

Stem cells can repair damaged heart tissue after heart attack

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A heart attack is a serious thing, and the risks to your health do not end once you have recovered. Your heart can get badly damaged from a heart attack. Now, scientists have created a new way to repair an injured heart.

When researchers placed certain stem cells on the damaged area of the heart, they saw that these cells caused the damaged area of the heart to repair itself. The damaged heart tissue was able to work better.

"A new way to repair hearts after a heart attack."

According to study leader Dr. Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, from Columbia University's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, this discovery is very exciting. The same approach could be used with other stem cells that the researchers are looking at to repair the heart.

The cells do all the repair work in this method, says Vunjak-Novakovic. The scientists just set the scene so that the cells can get the job done.

As heart disease and heart attack are some of the most serious health problems in America, this study's findings are a huge step forward in the treatment of damaged hearts.

The Study

  • Researchers removed cells from a human heart muscle and replaced those cells with mesenchymal progenitors - stem cells that can become many different types of cells
  • They then placed these new patches of cells on the damaged heart tissue which caused new blood vessels to grow
  • The patches released proteins that prompted the original heart tissue to repair itself
  • Cell survival improved and the damaged area of the heart was able to function better
Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 9, 2011
Last Updated:
May 10, 2011