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Regenerative Medicine in the Heart
regenerative medicine

What is regenerative medicine?
Regenerative medicine can help people heal faster by enhancing the body's own natural healing process. Most treatments that are currently under investigation use stem cells that can be found in the center of bone ends, in a structure called red bone marrow. These stem cells have the potential to become new blood, brain, bone, or heart cells. To find out more about the bone marrow, visit the Biology of the Bone page.

How can regenerative medicine help patients recover from a heart attack?
Stem cells are taken from the bone marrow of the patient and exposed to growth factors in a lab that cause the stem cells to multiply and turn into heart cells. These cells are then placed on a scaffold, a mesh patch. This is a flexible patch that is placed on the heart, with a surgical procedure. Over time the cells on the patch grow into heart muscle cells and replace the damaged heart cells, allowing the heart to continue its normal rhythms. Eventually, the mesh patch is absorbed into the body.

Another treatment involves a simple injection. This injection stimulates the body to produce millions of stem cells in the bone marrow. These stem cells then circulate throughout the body in blood vessels and replace damaged heart muscle. The stem cells can find the damaged muscle and heal it on their own, by picking up signals from the environment (called the extracellular matrix – see Bone Biology page) that tell them to become heart cells.

See a movie of new heart tissue!

Click here to see a movie of a patch of heart muscle that was created in the lab and is able to beat on its own! Please note, this movie might disturb some viewers.


Regenerative medicine allows your body to re-grow damaged heart tissue where the body would normally produce scar tissue that weakens the heart.



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