In the first research of its kind, researchers in the University of Utah are trying to use body’s own stem cell to treat heart failure.

After drawing about 3 tablespoons of patients’ own bone marrow, researchers will grow cardiac-repair cells — believed to help heart muscles and improve blood flow — in culture for about 12 days. The cells that survive culture are healthier than the original ones extracted from the patient.

Two weeks later, the newly grown stem cells will be injected directly into the left ventricle of the patients’ hearts during a minimally invasive surgery developed by Patel, the national principal investigator of the Aastrom Biosciences-sponsored Phase II clinical trial. Most patients will leave the hospital two to three days after surgery — and within six months, will start to feel the results.

The treatment is targeted at patients with two types of heart disease, Ischemic heart disease and non-ischemic heart disease. Ischemic heart disease occurs when hearts don’t get enough blood and oxygen because of heart muscle damage caused by coronary artery disease. Non-ischemic heart disease describes muscle damage caused by other means, including viruses or drug use. A subset of these patients has dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition that leaves the heart weakened, enlarged and unable to pump blood efficiently.

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune