Today, researchers and clinicians are using regenerative medicine to repair unhealthy tissues. By using stem cells from within the body, doctors surgically deliver these stem cells into damaged tissues to begin the regenerate process. Stem cells are the body’s basic materials that grow into new tissues.
There are two primary types of stem cells: embryonic and adult stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are used during normal human development to produce all of the tissues in our bodies. Adult stem cells are used throughout our lives to replace cells as needed in our bodies. Our research only involves adult stem cells.
For use in today’s clinical regeneration, adult stem cells can be collected from bone marrow and fat tissue. Bone marrow stem cells come from the spongy tissue inside certain bones. These are the most commonly used stem cells to either directly differentiate into new tissues or stimulate damaged tissues in the body to accelerate the healing process for regenerative applications.
Doctors in the field of hematology have used this type of stem cell for decades to replace the red and white blood cells in patients undergoing aggressive chemotherapy for cancer. More recently, bone marrow stem cells have been repurposed for the regeneration of other tissue types, such as the heart muscle. Bone marrow stem cells are a viable option to stimulate tissue renewal that may be too slow in some patients. Additionally, bone marrow stem cells can directly contribute to specific tissue types that need to be replaced in order to help grow new tissue. Bone marrow stem cells may be collected from adults through a blood and bone marrow donation.
While there is currently no approved stem cell therapy for HLHS heart repair, clinical trials and studies investigating the possibilities are underway. The aim is to find the best possible cell types that are available to each patient at the right time to ultimately prevent or delay heart transplantation for congenital heart patients. Contact our program at HLHS@mayo.edu to find out more.
The Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) is a collaborative network of specialists bonded by the vision of delaying or preventing heart failure for individuals affected by congenital heart defects including HLHS. The specialized team is addressing the various aspects of these defects by using research and clinical strategies ranging from basic science to diagnostic imaging to regenerative therapies.
Send an email to invite people you know to join the HLHS page.