Stem-cell therapy for cardiac disease
Heart failure is the leading cause of death worldwide, and current therapies only delay progression of the disease. Laboratory experiments and recent clinical trials suggest that cell-based therapies can improve cardiac function, and the implications of this for cardiac regeneration are causing great excitement. Bone-marrow-derived progenitor cells and other progenitor cells can differentiate into vascular cell types, restoring blood flow. More recently, resident cardiac stem cells have been shown to differentiate into multiple cell types present in the heart, including cardiac muscle cells, indicating that the heart is not terminally differentiated. These new findings have stimulated optimism that the progression of heart failure can be prevented or even reversed with cell-based therapy.