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Stem Cells May Rejuvenate Failing Hearts

Researchers found injecting them into damaged tissue improved organ's ability to pump blood

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The patients who received stem cells also experienced a reduction in their heart's scar tissue compared to the placebo group, but the amount of reduction did not prove statistically significant, the researchers said.

Researchers plan a larger clinical trial involving 120 to 180 patients in several European countries, Mathiasen said. There are no U.S. trials under way for this procedure.

Grines said she looks forward to reviewing safety data from the new trial and future trials, since needle injections can cause an increased incidence of irregular heart rhythm. The tiny scars left by the needle can divert the electrical signals of the heart.

But if the procedure proves safe, it could help countless heart patients, she said.

"You need a larger trial to tell for sure whether this is going to be important. But if it is, it could have a major impact on society," Grines said.

Research presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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