In a newly-published study, scientists from several institutions across the country report that use of adult stem cells can repair hearts damaged from heart attack. The researchers say that it's some of the strongest evidence yet that adult stem cells can turn into new heart cells to repair damaged tissue. The study suggests that adult stem cells, in this case derived from bone marrow, are more flexible than previously thought. The published study looks at 53 patients who had heart attacks within the previous ten days. Patients were injected intravenously with mesenchymal adult stem cells; the cells migrated to the damaged heart and began repair. Patients who received the adult stem cells showed improvement over those who did not receive the cells. According to Dr. Joshua Hare, a University of Miami cardiologist and lead author of the 10-university study:
"This clearly did help heal the human heart."
The adult stem cells seem to repair heart damage by several mechanisms. Besides forming new heart cells, another cardiologist on the project, Dr. Alan Heldman, notes:
"The stem cells take part in the growth of new blood vessels to bring more oxygen to the heart. They help modulate the scarring from the heart attack. They fight inflammation. There's a lot going on:"
This is just the latest of many published results showing the efficacy of adult stem cells in repairing heart damage. The paper is published in the 8 December 2009 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.