Stem cell therapy for heart disease
This exciting field holds promise for repairing damaged hearts.
For more than a decade, scientists have been trying to repair damaged hearts with stem cells. These cells—the body's most versatile building blocks—are unique in their ability to develop into many types of cell. This makes stem cells highly promising for repairing the damage caused by conditions such as heart attack and heart failure. It may even be possible to grow an entire human heart from scratch, so to speak.
Although stem cell therapy is not yet a routine therapeutic option, dozens of clinical trials are under way in the United States and Europe. Some will be successful; others, not. But one reality remains clear: "Enthusiasm for the possibilities of stem cell therapy has not waned," says Dr. Richard Lee, co-Editor in Chief of the Harvard Heart Letter and the head of the cardiovascular program at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.