Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Heart Disease Health Center

Font Size

Bone Marrow Cells to Fix Heart Damage?

Mixed Results From Human Trials of Bone Marrow Cells in Heart Attack Patients
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 20, 2006 -- European researchers report promising results from clinical trials to test whether injections of bone marrow cells can repair heart attack damage.

Bone marrow cells -- a mixture of cells obtained from a patient's own bone marrow -- are thought by some scientists to contain stem cells that can become heart muscle cells or blood vessel cells.

That hasn't been proved.

But three studies appearing in the Sept. 21 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine show such treatments can offer a benefit to patients -- even if doctors don't yet know how best to use the treatments, in which patients, or at what time.

The trio of studies is an indication of how important this research may one day turn out to be.

Still, one of the trials found no effect when the treatment was given six days after a heart attack.

But another, larger, trial showed that patients who received the bone marrow cells three to seven days after they were given clot-busting treatment did a bit better than patients who got that state-of-the-art treatment alone.

The third trial showed the treatment moderately improved heart function even when given more than six years after a heart attack.

The studies "provide a realistic perspective on this approach while leaving room for cautious optimism and underscoring the need for further study," concludes Harvard Stem Cell Institute researcher Anthony Rosenzweig, MD, in an accompanying editorial.

Treatment Not Ready for Prime Time

"Patients benefited from many established therapies -- including aspirin -- before we understood the underlying mechanisms," Rosenzweig notes. But "even aspirin might not be as effective if it were still being delivered as willow bark."

For the new approach to be fully developed, researchers will have to find out exactly which -- if any -- of the bone marrow cells repair the heart. Until then, Rosenzweig says, patients should receive these treatments only in clinical trials.

Today on WebMD

x-ray of human heart
A visual guide.
atrial fibrillation
Symptoms and causes.
heart rate graph
10 things to never do.
heart rate
Get the facts.
empty football helmet
red wine
eating blueberries
Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
Inside A Heart Attack
Omega 3 Sources
Salt Shockers
lowering blood pressure