Ailing hearts repaired with leg cells

Around 60 patients in the UK are taking part in a trial of a new therapy that uses cells grown from leg muscule to repair faulty hearts.

The cells are taken from the patient’s leg and injected into the heart in the trials at the UK’s Heart Hospital and University College London. The cells are taken up and help rejenerate the heart.

Nearly all patients who survive a significant heart attack progress to heart failure, which affects 22 million people worldwide, including almost one million in the UK.

Heart failure is incurable, although its symptoms can be treated with drugs. After a heart attack, areas of muscle may die, and the idea behind the therapy is to breathe new life into sick hearts by injecting living cells into the dead areas. The aim is that within six months to a year, the muscle cells will start behaving like heart muscle, contracting and expanding the heart, and revitalising the damaged tissue.