The idea of the use of stem cells and regenerative medicine strategies for heart disease has taken us on a roller coaster ride over the years.
There are many controversial questions still such as whether the adult heart has meaningful populations of endogenous stem cells. Can administration of stem cells help a damaged heart?
Where do things stand today?
As Deepak Srivastava, cardiac stem cell expert, told in me for a past blog post here, there are endogenous heart stem cells, but probably not in sufficient populations to be clinically significant directly.
Despite the wildness in this area of clinical research for the past 1-2 decades, there are reasons for hope and recent good news. For instance, the field has never had a better understanding of stem cells and the heart.
There are also more than 600 clinical trials listed for the search “heart AND stem cells” on clinicaltrials.gov. Many of these won’t work out, but I’m confidence that quite a few will and could lead to safe and effective new stem cell treatments for the heart. So in the next 5-10 years, I expect we’ll see stem cells mending broken hearts.