Cardiac Regeneration

Reparative stem cells have the capability to restore function to damaged tissue by renewing cell growth (shown in green) in cardiac cells destroyed by heart disease.

Approximately 28 million Americans have been diagnosed with heart disease. Traditional medical therapies are not able to fully address the burden of disease, and the shortage of organs for transplantation remains a key barrier — more than 117,000 people are on the national transplant list.

This unmet need drives Mayo Clinic researchers to make new discoveries to accelerate regenerative solutions into clinical trials and rapidly provide new hope to patients who can't currently be treated.

Cardiac regeneration is a broad effort that aims to repair irreversibly damaged heart tissue with cutting-edge science, including stem cell and cell-free therapy. Reparative tools have been engineered to restore damaged heart tissue and function using the body's natural ability to regenerate. Working together, patients and providers are finding regenerative solutions that restore, renew and recycle patients' own reparative capacity. Through the vision and generous support of Russ and Kathy Van Cleve, strong efforts are underway to develop discoveries that will have a global impact on ischemic heart disease.

Mayo Clinic researchers are leading efforts in translating new knowledge into applicable therapeutics through a multidisciplinary community of practice. As technology evolves, it offers the potential to regenerate cardiac tissue from noncardiac sources and ultimately provide personalized products and services to people with cardiovascular disease.

Focus areas

The overarching vision for the cardiac regeneration program at Mayo Clinic is to develop new therapies to cure ischemic heart disease. Mayo researchers are developing products for clinical testing that span the disease spectrum, including the following areas:

  • Heart attack (acute myocardial infarction). Heart attacks are a leading cause of death and illness in the U.S. To address the unpredictable nature of these events, the Center for Regenerative Biotherapeutics has developed novel, cell-free therapies that go hand in hand with current standards of care. Now, researchers are designing a clinical trial to deliver regenerative therapy after surgical stent implantation to further reduce injury and protect the heart against inflammation.
  • Chest pain caused by coronary artery disease. Mayo Clinic researchers are developing a novel gel carrying the newest generation of gene therapy technology to help the heart form new blood vessels. These biological bypass grafts will be offered to patients who can't benefit from stenting or coronary bypass surgery (coronary artery bypass grafting) and have run out of options.
  • Chest pain from small vessel disease (coronary microvascular disease). The Center for Regenerative Biotherapeutics is creating a cell-based therapy designed to improve the integrity and health of the heart's smallest blood vessels. The therapy will help patients whose chest pain persists despite a negative angiogram and optimal medical therapy.
  • Heart failure (congestive heart failure). Stem cell therapy is already a treatment option for patients with advanced heart failure due to heart attack. Now, new discoveries are underway to improve stem cells' regenerative therapeutic impact for many patients in need.
  • Left ventricular assist device. Mayo Clinic is participating in a multicenter study, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, to assess whether stem cell therapy in combination with a mechanical circulatory support device provides additional benefit to patients.

More information about cardiac regenerative medicine research at Mayo Clinic is on the Van Cleve Cardiac Regenerative Medicine Program website.