Treating heart attack patients with their own heart cells may help damaged hearts re-grow healthy muscle, a new study shows.
When an individual suffers a heart attack, the heart muscle is left with a scar and other damage. Researchers from Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute found that giving heart attack patients an infusion of their own heart-derived cells significantly reduced the size of the scar left on the heart muscle after an attack. The patients in the clinical trial also experienced an increase in healthy heart muscle after the stem cell treatment.
"These results signal an approaching paradigm shift in the care of heart attack patients," said Dr. Shlomo Melmed, dean of the Cedars-Sinai medical faculty and the Helene A. and Philip E. Hixon Chair in Investigative Medicine. "In the past, all we could do was to try to minimize heart damage by promptly opening up an occluded artery. Now, this study shows there is a regenerative therapy that may actually reverse the damage caused by a heart attack."
Dr. Eduardo Marban, director of the Heart Institute who invented the procedures and technology involved in the study, said this discovery challenges common conceptions about the detrimental effects of heart attacks.
"This discovery challenges the conventional wisdom that, once established, scar is permanent and that, once lost, healthy heart muscle cannot be restored," Marban said.