In exciting news for heart patients, researchers say they have successfully used stem cells to treat heart attack tissue damage in pigs.
This encouraging a breakthrough could possibly pave the way for trials in humans.
Dr. Joshua Hare, a cardiologist and professor of medicine, at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, who was the senior author of the study, says that the findings give good reasons for optimism and could lead to a cure for heart attack in humans.
He says their ultimate goal is to develop a widely applicable treatment to repair and reverse the damage done to heart muscle that has been destroyed, after losing its blood supply.
It apparently took just two months for stem cells harvested from another pig's bone marrow and injected into the animal's damaged heart, to restore the animal's heart function and repair the damaged heart muscle from 50 percent to 75 percent.
Already two patients have been enrolled at Johns Hopkins to participate in a Phase I clinical trial of the therapy, which will test the safety of injecting adult stem cells at varying amounts in patients who have recently suffered a heart attack.
The researchers say a total of 48 patients will participate in the human study, and results are not expected until mid-2006.
The research is published in this week's online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.