Cardiac Regeneration

Reparative stem cells restore damaged tissue and function caused by heart disease.

To regenerate cardiac tissue and ultimately offer personalized products and services to cardiac patients, Mayo Clinic clinicians and researchers are resuscitating the repair capacity of patient stem cells prior to delivery into diseased heart muscle.

Cardiovascular regenerative medicine uses both natural and engineered reparative tools to restore damaged tissue and function caused by heart disease. Clinical application of regenerative biologics has emerged as a tool that can be tailored to augment existing therapeutic strategies and offer a possible cure for otherwise incurable diseases, including heart failure.

Prior to transplantation, stem cells are typically harvested from the patient's own bone marrow. For the past decade, these stem cells have been delivered as naive cells with marginal benefit, as stem cells are often as sick as the patients from whom they are taken.

However, Mayo Clinic has recently developed a state-of-the-art intervention to boost the repair capacity of patient stem cells before they are delivered into diseased heart muscle.

This technological breakthrough fosters a new era of regenerative platforms designed to optimize therapeutic efficacy and safety in patients with life-threatening diseases. Next-generation clinical trials are now underway to maximize therapeutic value by matching the right cell to the right patient.

Mayo Clinic researchers are leading efforts in translating new knowledge into applicable therapeutics through a multidisciplinary community of practice. As technology evolves, the potential exists to regenerate cardiac tissue from noncardiac sources and ultimately offer personalized products and services to cardiac patients.

Focus areas

  • Optimization of stem cell-based regeneration in ischemic heart disease. The discovery of a cardiac progenitor population, termed cardiopoietic stem cells, was a major breakthrough by Mayo researchers. These cells have already demonstrated, in phase II clinical studies, the capacity to improve heart function in patients with end-stage heart failure and are undergoing phase III evaluation.
  • Development of novel biologics delivery modalities in the heart. In collaboration with bioengineering and industry, we developed a novel cardiac catheter that is able to dramatically improve stem cell retention in the heart. We will evaluate the utility of this catheter design in delivery of proteins and therapeutic viruses to the heart.
  • Acellular personalized regeneration in myocardial infarction. State-of-the-art molecular profiling of patient blood samples at the time of heart attack (myocardial infarction) has allowed identification of markers that can predict long-term risk of heart failure. Using this information, we have developed a protein-based therapy to limit heart muscle injury at the time of infarction.
  • Biomatrix and microsphere-based therapy in the heart. We are working on the development of tissue-engineering approaches to maximize delivery of regenerative therapies to the heart.

Other active areas of research include:

  • Testing of cardiopoietic stem cells in patients with end-stage heart failure
  • Validation of a rapid diagnostic panel to identify patients at highest risk of heart failure following heart attack
  • Optimization and preclinical testing of protein delivery to the heart following infarction