Skin-grown cells could help you recover from heart attacks

Cell injections would repair damaged areas and get you back in shape.

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Westend61 via Getty Images
Westend61 via Getty Images

Scientists have taken numerous shots at repairing hearts following heart attacks, but an experimental approach might do a better job than most. Japanese researchers are developing a technique that repairs hearts using cells grown from the skin of a genetically similar donor. If you convert stem cells into heart cells and inject them into affected areas, they can replace damaged tissue and help the organ pump more like it did before the attack.

Early tests with monkeys are far from perfect. The cells only repaired repaired 16 percent of damaged tissue, and the monkeys still needed drugs to prevent their bodies from rejecting donor cells (in theory, that shouldn't be necessary with this technique). The simians also developed irregular heartbeats, although those might only be temporary. If the team can refine its technique, though, there could be a time when a heart attack doesn't leave you quite so weakened as it does today.

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