London, Dec 4 : British scientists have developed a new technique that can rebuild a severely damaged heart, and one day, might replace the need for transplantation.
Researchers at Imperial College London revealed that stem cell heart surgery can help repair damaged hearts using progenitor cells derived from patients' own cardiac muscle.
They have discovered a way to extract, grow in the laboratory and then graft on a patient's own muscle-building cells which then can be used to patch up the heart and increase its pumping power
Moreover, it can increase the quality of life for people who suffer a heart attack.
"This could transform the care for patients who have had heart attacks or have heart disease," the Telegraph quoted Dr Nicholas Boon, President of the British Cardiovascular Society as saying.
"Because the cell therapy uses a patient's own cells, it negates the risks or complications associated with other treatment options such as rejection linked to transplantation," Boon added.
Researchers led by American Professor Michael Schneider have discovered a way to rejuvenate hearts using specialist versions of heart stem cells - known as "progenitor" cells - found in small quantities in human hearts.
The research team isolated the special cells from human hearts and cloned them in the lab. They then used a proprietary, non-toxic technique to multiply them.
The technique was found to be effective in trials conducted using mouse model and it did lead to the formation of new heart tissue.
"It's very exciting - and we could be doing human trials within three years," said Professor Schneider.
"This is pretty cutting edge stuff, in an ideal world, we could have a situation where patients with heart disease have their disease reversed as healthy tissue grows back.
"We hope that at the very least this will make the lives of those suffering from heart disease easier - allow them to get up stairs and do more things in their daily lives.
"The more ambitious hope is that will eventually keep people out of hospital and make them live longer," he added.