Scientists have refined tissue repair techniques using stem cells to the point where they believe we might have pills that repair heart muscles in 10 years. Reports the BBC:
Currently, any damage caused during a heart attack is permanent. More people survive attacks than in the past as a result of better medications, but their quality of life suffers. “We can palliate with medication, we can make them feel a little bit better, we can make them live a little bit long,” said Peter Weissberg, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, which funded the study. “If you like, we prolong the agony of a pretty miserable existence of not being able to breathe, not being able to exercise and the risk of sudden death all the time.”
In the experiments, which involved inducing heart attacks in mice, the researchers found that the treatment led to a 25% improvement in the heart’s ability to pump blood after a month compared with mice that had not received the treatment.
Researchers introduced stem cells into the lining around the hearts of the mice, and found that the cells spurred new growth in the tissue that “turned back the clock” on the health of the hearts. People developing heart disease could, in the future, take medications that would repair their hearts before they ever got heart attacks.