Clinical Trials in Canada for stem cells to heal hearts

The treatment is believed to be the first in the world to test the ability of a patient’s own stem cells, genetically engineered to have extra-strong healing powers, to repair damaged tissue caused by a heart attack.
Starting in February, as many as 100 patients in Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal will be enrolled in the study led by researchers at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.
The trial marks a pivotal step in the uncertain science of growing new heart cells.
If the treatment works and is eventually approved for clinical use, it would not replace existing therapies such as drugs to break up blood clots and angioplasty to widen coronary arteries
Research has shown that the human heart has a limited capacity to generate new heart-muscle cells, half of which are replaced over the course of a person’s lifetime. But the heart’s capacity to repair itself does not accelerate in response to a heart attack. Instead, the damaged cells are replaced by scar tissue, which does not contract, impairing the heart’s ability to pump blood efficiently.
"You get into this spiral where, over time, the heart gets bigger and bigger and weaker and weaker," said Dr. Duncan Stewart, the trial’s lead investigator and chief executive of the research institute.
As a result, a significant number of the 54,000 Canadians who survive heart attacks every year go on to develop congestive heart failure, which lowers their quality of life and increases their risk of death.