After years of political debate and legislation blocking such studies, the world's first FDA-approved stem cell trial will happen and look into finding a treatment for heart disease, one of the leading causes of death for senior citizens in the U.S.
The trial will use adult cardiac stem cells and be conducted by a team of doctors at the University of Louisville.
Patients with advanced heart disease, who are already undergoing bypass surgery, will be recruited for the study and will get the stem cells from the patient's own cardiac tissue.
A small piece of tissue will be removed during the bypass procedure and sent to Harvard University so the adult cardiac stem cells can be extracted.
After the patient has recovered from bypass surgery, the stem cells will be injected into the cardiac scar tissue. The patient's heart function and flow will then be monitored for at least a year.
"Our hope is that the cardiac stem cells will help the heart tissue regenerate, reducing the size of the patient's scar tissue and improving heart function," said study leader Roberto Bolli, Jewish Hospital Heart and Lung Institute Distinguished Chair in Cardiology.