Atta Behfar M.D., Ph.D.: The science of regenerative medicine

Cellular Therapies

Stem cell therapies

Clinical studies have shown that stem cells are not only safe, but can be effective treatment options for patients with heart disease. However, poor definition of cell types, diversity in cell-handling procedures and variability in repair potential have impeded the overall adoption of stem cell therapies in medical practice. To overcome these hurdles, researchers in the Mayo Clinic Van Cleve Cardiac Regenerative Medicine Program are developing next-generation stem-cell therapies with optimized regenerative capacity.


Investigators in the program are actively pursuing cellular therapy projects in various stages of discovery, translation and application. Research projects include:

  • Targeted cardiogenesis. Building upon already successful stem cell-based therapies, the program's targeted cardiogenesis project aims to improve on the ways cardiac stem cells are derived. Targeted cardiogenesis allows scientists to guide stem cells to improve clinical outcomes.
  • Clinomics platform. The program's clinomics platform drives discovery of novel biomarkers to identify patients who are at high risk of heart failure. Clinomics will help clinician-investigators in early diagnosis and enable researchers to develop treatment options to reverse or reduce long-term damage.

Research background

Current and future cardiac regenerative medicine projects in cellular therapy are grounded in Mayo Clinic's strong background in this area. Building on previous accomplishments, the Van Cleve Cardiac Regenerative Medicine Program continues to advance the following research:

  • Optimization of stem cell-based regeneration in ischemic heart disease. One of the major breakthroughs in cardiac regeneration occurred at Mayo Clinic: the discovery of a cardiac progenitor population (cardiopoietic stem cells). These cardiopoietic stem cells have been tested in phase II studies, showing that they have the capacity to improve heart function in patients with end-stage heart failure. Research to further optimize cell therapy in patients with end-stage heart disease is ongoing.
  • Development of novel biologics delivery modalities in the heart. Mayo Clinic researchers worked with engineers and collaborated with industry to develop novel catheter technology to improve stem cell retention in the heart.