University of Minnesota researchers are testing a safer way to repair the heart
Using minimally invasive robotic surgery equipment, researchers have successfully repaired damaged heart tissue in pigs with injections of stem cells. The cells were successfully transplanted in six of seven cases. Subsequent studies showed that the cells took hold in the heart and function improved.
The research team, co-led by Doris Taylor, Ph.D., professor of physiology and holder of the Medtronic Bakken Chair in Cardiovascular Repair, used a combination of skeletal myoblasts—or cells that give rise to muscle—and bone marrow-derived cells. Both cell types have been shown to improve the development of newblood vesselsand to improve functionof injured heart muscle.
The research was published in the July issue of the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery.
The use of minimally invasive techniques to repair the heart could offer great benefits for people in heart failure, Taylor says, because the heart can be repaired while it is still beating and the surgery requires less time under anesthesia. The techniques also give surgeons a magnified view of the heart, allowing them to target the infusion of stem cells more precisely.