A collaborative team of researchers has shown that cardiac adult stem cells could be used to treat children with heart problems. The group found that they could isolate cardiac stem cells from children that were one day old up to 13 years old, and that these adult stem cells could be grown extensively in the lab and induced to form various types of cardiac cells. They also showed that when these adult stem cells were injected into damaged rat hearts, the human adult stem cells could repair heart damage, showing "robust regenerative ability".

Dr. Sunjay Kaushal from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, the senior author, said:

"This project has generated important pre-clinical laboratory data showing that we may be able to use their own heart stem cells to rebuild their hearts, allowing these children to live longer and have more productive lives. The potential of cardiac stem cell therapy for children is truly exciting."

Previous heart stem cell studies have addressed the adult diseased heart; this is the first systematic study to focus on cardiac adult stem cells from children. Dr. Kaushal hopes to begin clinical trials with children in the fall, pending FDA approval.

The new study is published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.