Stem cell therapy opens new approach to treatment of cardiac conditions

Stem cell research has opened up a whole new approach to treat heart conditions, according to experts. A couple of weeks ago, researchers from the University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky injected stem cells into the hearts of humans who had suffered serious heart damage, which produced remarkable improvement in patients.

They say it appeared that stem cells grew into new heart cells that replaced damaged tissue, just as everyone had hoped.

Medical experts say this constituted another success for stem cell research as the therapy delivers on its promise to repair or replace damaged organs that would never recover otherwise. They add someday the same technique could be used to replace damaged livers, kidneys, spinal cords, cartilege, and virtually all other tissues in the human body.

In the new study published in the Lancet, a group of researchers led by professor Robert Bolli grew stem cells from patients' own hearts, after the patients had suffered serious heart attacks, that caused permanent damage to their hearts.

Explaining to CNN reporter Caleb Hellerman, Bolli said, once the patients reached the stage of heart disease they did not get better, they could only go down slowly or quickly but they would go down.

However, in the study, they did not ''go down'' , rather they got better.  After collecting a small amount their patients' heart tissue, Bolli and colleagues purified stem cells from that tissue. They used the patient's own cells, thus avoiding the danger of rejection as with cells from an unrelated donor.