ROCHESTER, Minn., Jan. 17 (UPI) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a clinical trial of heart failure patients to determine if using stem cells improves the heart, researchers say.
Dr. Andre Terzic, director of the Mayo Clinic's Center for Regenerative Medicine in Rochester, Minn., said the decade-long project using stem cells to repair -- "cure" -- damaged heart tissue could have implications for millions of Americans with heart disease.
The trial is scheduled to involve 240 heart failure patients from 40 hospitals in Europe and Israel.
The procedure could be a "paradigm shift" in the treatment of heart disease, Terzic told the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune.
The process, developed in collaborations with Cardio3 BioSciences of Belgium, involves harvesting stem cells from a patient's bone marrow in the hip, directing the cells to become "cardiopoietic" repair cells, then injecting them back into the heart to repair heart damage.
Dr. Atta Behfar, a researcher on Terzic's team, isolated hundreds of proteins involved in the transcription process that takes place when stem cells are converted to heart cells and identified eight proteins crucial to the process.
Early results are expected in 2015.