Today, standard treatment for people with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) includes a three-stage surgery that enables the right ventricle to pump blood to the entire body.
Though effective, these surgeries are palliative and do not eliminate the person's risk of needing a heart transplant later. And because the right ventricle was never meant to support the entire body, the strain imposed can lead to declines in pumping ability over time.
Regenerative medicine strategies for HLHS have the potential to provide an alternative to heart transplantation. Using stem cells of different types and from various sources — including cells from the patient's own body — regenerative therapies for HLHS could replace, rejuvenate or regenerate defective tissues, leaving new, healthy tissues in their place.
Such approaches could restore the pumping ability of the right ventricle once it begins to decline or perhaps prevent the decline altogether, eliminating the need for a future heart transplant.
To create new and innovative regenerative therapies for HLHS, which includes determining from where and whom the cells can originate and when best to deliver them to patients, ongoing areas of focus for the regenerative strategies team include:
To learn more about regenerative medicine, watch Timothy J. Nelson, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for HLHS, explain the regenerative medicine consult service at Mayo Clinic and how induced pluripotent stem cells can repair hearts (YouTube videos).
If you have questions about regenerative medicine research within the Program for HLHS or would like to learn more about research participation opportunities, please contact:
Karen P. Krucker, R.N.
© 2013 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. All rights reserved.