For the last decade, doctors have been injecting stem cells into the hearts of cardiac patients. Although it has not been understood why, it has been clear that for some patients these stem cells have helped to regenerate heart tissue. However, new research suggests that the immune system plays a very large role in this.
With the new research with stem cells and mice with heart conditions, it has been discovered that the cells themselves, regardless of source, may not even be necessary. Instead, it appears that the immune system is helping these patients recover. The immune system, all on its own, can help regenerate the heart tissues under the right circumstances.
However, it could be that the stem cell therapy is helping to boost the immune response and help speed up the healing. This is still not entirely understood, but more research is being conducted to more fully understand this phenomenon.
Honestly, the success of stem cells being injected into the heart has been trivial at best, and it has been far from consistent. For this reason, the discussion is now being turned away from stem cells and more toward research to discover how the immune system can be bolstered to stimulate the regenerative properties of the body’s own healing power.
That doesn’t mean stem cells aren’t going to be used in the field of cardiology. Researchers are still working on developing new arteries, heart valves, and heart tissues from stem cells, platelet rich plasma, and blood with the use of a scaffolding. The idea is that if we can discover how to create these components of the heart, maybe one day a whole heart can be made from stem cells and scaffolding.