Stem cells are building blocks that can divide, replenish and repair almost any type of cell in the body. They are being tested in the treatment of medical conditions, ranging from cerebral palsy and spinal cord injury to diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. Early research suggests stem cells may be able to repair damaged heart muscle cells as well.
“Stem cell research is experimental, but has yielded some intriguing early results,” says Thomas Povsic, MD, PhD, a cardiologist who is leading cardiac stem cell therapy trials at Duke. “Overall, the field looks promising, but each individual stem cell type and approach has to go through rigorous clinical testing.”