There are a number of conditions impacting the heart. The most common is coronary artery disease. Heart disease can have serious consequences if it is not managed.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and most racial and ethnic groups in the United States.

When you think of heart disease treatments, you probably think of drugs and lifestyle changes. Stem cells could be used to repair heart disease.

This could be the new frontier of treatment for heart disease. Continue reading to learn more.

Our bodies are made up of a diverse amount of cell types with various shapes and functions. For example, a nerve cell has very different characteristics and tasks than a muscle cell.

Stem cells are the type of cells that can create other, more specialized cells. Stem cells can divide to make more stem cells.

“There are two types of stem cells. Let’s take a look at them.”

Adult stem cells

Adult stem cells are only found in certain tissue types, like the bone marrow, brain, and skin. Adult stem cells are used to replace cells that have been lost through injury or wear and tear.

For example, hematopoietic stem cells in your bone marrow can develop into different types of blood cells in your body. Mesenchymal stem cells, also found in the bone marrow, can become muscle, bone, or fat cells.

Pluripotent stem cells

Pluripotent stem cells can become any type of cell in the human body. In nature, these stem cells are found during the early development of human embryos. These are called embryonic stem cells.

Scientists have found a way to reprogram adult stem cells to become pluripotent stem cells. These stem cells are called irrmidable stem cells.

Why is there so much controversy around stem cells?

In 1998, scientists developed a technique to collect pluripotent stem cells from human embryos. These embryos are about 5 days old, which is when the embryo is made up of a hollow ball of cells called a blastocyst.

The moral implications of using stem cells from human embryos are the focus of the controversy.

Researchers developed a way to reprogram adult stem cells. These are called irrmidable stem cells.

Stem cells from embryos are not the same as stem cells from humans. They have lessened the need for the use of embryonic stem cells in many areas of research.

Currently, the only stem cell products approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are those using hematopoietic stem cells from blood or bone marrow. These stem cells are approved for transplant procedures to treat blood conditions like:

In this therapy, doctors use high dose radiation or chemotherapy to destroy cells in the bone marrow. After this, doctors infuse the stem cells into the bone marrow. The goal is for the stem cells to reestablish a bone marrow that produces healthy blood cells.

Stem cells can become other cell types, and they are being researched as a therapy for various health conditions. Stem cells can be used to regenerate damaged or injured tissues.

One example is neurodegenerative conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). These conditions cause progressive damage to the nervous system and don’t yet have a cure.

Researchers have been able to use stem cells to generate neural cells in a laboratory. This has led to various clinical trials testing the safety and effectiveness of stem cells in treating neurodegenerative conditions.

Other conditions that stem cell therapy is being researched for include diabetes, eye conditions, and cancer.

Heart disease causes damage to heart tissue. It’s often hard for the heart to repair this damage after it has occurred.

Stem cells can be used to repair damage to the heart, and researchers hope they can help restore heart function. This research is still in its infancy.

Stem cells have been included in studies for this type of therapy. Mesenchymal stem cells, a kind of adult stem cell, have been used for some of the most promising results.

Stem cells can be delivered by a variety of methods. These include:

  • Direct injection into the heart.
  • The coronary arteries are introduced.
  • IV injection

There is still much to learn. There are many open questions.

  • How many stem cells are needed for treatment?
  • Stem cells enter the heart. What can we do to improve our survival?
  • Is one treatment enough to help with tissue recovery? How many treatments are needed if not?
  • Does the timing of the treatment matter? Is it more effective after the damage has occurred? Can it be used when damage is still months away?
  • Stem cell therapy can be used with existing treatments for heart disease.
  • Stem cell therapy for heart disease is safe. There are any side effects?

Is stem cell therapy for heart disease approved by the FDA?

Stem cell therapy for heart disease is not approved by the FDA. Stem cell therapy for heart disease is being studied.

The only stem cell-based therapies that are currently approved by the FDA are those that use hematopoietic stem cell transplants to treat conditions affecting the blood, like leukemia and Multiple myeloma is a disease..

Research snapshot

Stem cell therapy may help to repair damage from heart attacks, according to a 2020 study on mice. In the study, the mice received therapy with human stem cells following a heart attack.

The levels of 450 different proteins in the heart were changed by a heart attack. Stem cell therapy reversed 65 percent of the changes.

Researchers also found stem cell therapy to reduce major cardiac events in individuals with heart failure, according to data presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2021.

The study included 537 people with heart failure. Of these people, 261 received an injection of stem cells into their heart, and 276 underwent a sham procedure. Participants were then observed for 30 months.

Compared to the control group, those that received the stem cells had a 65 percent reduction in nonfatal heart attack and stroke. However, there was no reduction in hospitalizations due to heart failure in the stem cell group.

Another important finding was that stem cell treatment reduced the number of cardiac deaths by 80 percent in people with class 2 heart failure.

The research hasn’t been without setbacks, though. A 2019 study of people with advanced heart failure and a ventricular assist device found no difference between the control group and those receiving stem cells in being able to wean participants from the device.

Stem cell therapy for heart disease is still being evaluated. There are some potential safety concerns about this type of treatment.

  • Stem cells can develop into different types of heart muscle cells, which respond differently to the electrical signals that trigger the heartbeat. Many different cell types in one area could impact treatment effectiveness or cause arrhythmia.
  • Some types of stem cells have the potential to form a type of tumor called a teratoma.
  • A person’s immune system might reject the stem cells.

It will take more research, both in the laboratory and in clinical trials, to fully understand the risks associated with stem cell therapy for heart disease.

Stem cell therapy has the potential to treat a lot of diseases. These therapies aim to repair damage to the heart.

Stem cell therapy may reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in some people with heart failure. It may help reverse some of the damage done by a heart attack.

These findings show promise. There is still a lot of research to be done before these interventions can be used on a larger scale.