Henry E. Young, Mark O. Speight
Cardiovascular disease is responsible for 30% of all deaths worldwide. Myocardial infarction, due to blocked coronary artery(ies) or their tributaries, presents unique challenges to the field of regenerative medicine. Following a myocardial infarction (MI), the myocardium is often replaced with non-functional scar tissue, resulting in heart failure, which is a common, disabling, and lethal condition. The prognosis of patients with heart failure is poor, with a failure rate approaching 50%. The loss of cardiac tissue underlies heart failure. Since lack of blood flow is a major contributor, multiple strategies have been developed to restore blood flow to the damaged myocardium. These strategies include reopening the blockage, bypassing the blockage, biomaterials as a storage depot for factors controlling repair, and use of stem cells. Since none of these strategies have been proven to be a permanent
fix, we tested telomerase-positive stem cells to restore the damaged tissues of the heart. Individuals with cardiac outputs at or below 25% were treated with these stem cells. After treatment, cardiac output, as a measure of function, increased from 20-45% in these individuals. These results suggest that telomerase-positive stem cells are a viable option for the treatment of individuals with cardiovascular disease.