Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the world so scientists have been working extremely hard to make use of stem cells therapies to treat patients with heart problems. In fact, they are closer than ever before to achieve this goal, due to two types of stem cells.
Some scientists consider the mesenchymal stem cells, also called bone marrow stem cells (BMSC) that come from adults, not embryos. Unlike embryonic stem cells, is no risk of cancer or immune rejection because they come from the patient they will treat, and there is no risk of contracting infectious blood borne diseases. A drug, which consists of stem cells from donor bone marrow, gets injected into the vein. Then, the cells travel through the bloodstream and take up residence in the heart. The BMSC are supposed to form new cardiac myocytes and coronary vessels following an induced myocardial infarct (myocardial infarcts do not regenerate and eventually result in the death of the individual, even if myocytes in the surviving myocardium undergo hypertrophy and cell division occurs in the border area of the dead tissue). It has been already on mice and it gave positive results. Besides, numerous attempts have been made to repair damaged myocardium in animal models and in humans because the BMSC maintain the ability throughout adult life to self-renew and differentiate into cells of all blood lineages. These adult BMSC have recently been shown to have the capacity to differentiate into multiple specific cell types in tissues other than bone marrow.
The other option scientists are considering for is the angiogenic cell precursors, or ACPs, the stem cells whose normal function is to repair damaged blood vessels. When injected into and around the heart, these cells build new blood vessels and restore function to the damaged heart tissue. This type of stem cells are supposed to treat patients suffering from coronary artery disease (angina), cardiomyopathy, and congestive heart failure (CHF) and the risks involved are similar to those of a standard angioplasty or minimally invasive heart surgery (NOT open-heart surgery).
Nevertheless, these are just studies that are still in Clinical trials and they are promising because it’s very rare that the human body rejects its own stem cells.