Repairing Hearts with Stem Cells
Reported July 15, 2011
MIAMI, Fla. (Ivanhoe newswire)-- This year, 785,000 people in the U.S will have
their first heart attack, and nearly half a million more, who’ve already had one
or more heart attacks, will suffer another one. Heart attacks can do serious
damage to the heart and affect everything from its size to its ability to
function. Now, researchers believe our own bodies could hold the key to
repairing that damage.
63-year-old Robert Boyce was an avid fisherman before he had three heart attacks
in just two years, severely damaging his heart.
"My heart was beating 40 some percent less than it should have been,” Robert
Boyce told Ivanhoe.
Robert and seven other men were part of a study conducted by Doctor Joshua Hare
and his team at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, testing the
heart-healing power of stem cells. In a non-invasive catheterization procedure,
researchers injected stem cells from the patients’ own bone marrow directly into
damaged areas in their hearts.
“We wanted to see if we took bone marrow and injected the bone marrow into the
areas of injury in these human hearts in these patients, would those hearts get
better?,” Joshua M. Hare, M.D., a cardiologist and director of the Stem Cell
Institute at UM Miller School of Medicine said.
The preliminary results show stem cells significantly reduced the size of
enlarged hearts, dramatically improved function in injured areas and reduced
“We think that, for one of the first times in medicine, we’ve actually taken a
damaged area of the heart and made it start beating again,” Dr. Hare said.
“My heart... I never had a heart attack. I don’t feel as if I had a heart
attack,” Robert said.
Now, a little at a time.
“It’s peaceful being on the water,” Robert said.
Robert’s getting back into fishing again. He’s already feeling younger. An
active man hoping that his own stem cells can give him a new lease on life.
Researchers say it’s too soon to know whether fixing a damaged heart with stem
cells gives Robert or any patient a longer life or better quality of life.
Larger, long-term studies may help answer that question. The University of Miami
Miller School of Medicine is one of several U.S. centers looking at using stem
cells for heart repair.