There’s good news and bad news in the field of stem cell research. A small, preliminary study of patients with heart failure showed that cardiac stem cells can improve the heart’s ability to pump blood. Cardiac surgeons removed a bit of heart tissue during bypass surgery or biopsy. Cardiac stem cells were coaxed from that tissue and later injected into the heart. Even years after the original damage, the cardiac stem cells were able to develop new heart cells and improve overall heart function. Some experts think this discovery is a major advance in the treatment of heart failure, but much more research will be needed to see whether the results in these fourteen heart patients can be generalized to a wider population.

[The Lancet, Nov. 14, 2011]

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