The heart is one of the most essential organs in the human body. It is what keeps almost every organism alive. However, recent studies have found that heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, creating a problem for the medical communities that are trying to save lives.
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Not only is it nearly impossible for doctors to cure a damaged heart for a long term, it is also costly and leads to more surgeries just to keep the patient alive for a couple more weeks. The answer to this then comes in with heart transplants. But with more people dying of heart disease on the transplant list than there are of actual hearts able to be transplanted, there is still a problem when it comes to finding the solution to America’s number one cause of death.
Scientists have recently started the practice of tissue engineering for skin replacement. This involves taking the patient’s own stem cells and growing them outside of the body for the replacement therapy. This practice is called regenerative medicine and scientists are searching for more ways to take existing stem cells and create new tissue that will heal organs like the heart. Recent practices for organ regeneration, especially for the heart, include grafting stem cells to the dying heart of a patient, bone marrow stem cell therapy, and many others. However, there is still no procedure that can be labeled as the most effective for improved cardiac function because there are too many different types of stem cells being altered during pre-clinical studies.
These pre-clinical studies using tissue engineered grafts for cardiovascular disease treatment are taking place all over the world, but scientists still have not been able to take their findings to large clinical trials because of unknown knowledge regarding the procedure itself. Instead doctors will do small clinical trials with patients who consent to undergo a type of the cardiac stem cell procedure because the doctors are still unsure of the effects and the results of the procedure yield minimal improvement. However, in most instances patients usually end up with either neutral or insignificant positive results because doctors do not understand what factors play into healing an infarcted heart (Gersh).
Even though conducting large scale clinical trials would solve the problem of the heart donor organ shortage for Americans, there are still many problems that arise when it comes to stem cells and heart regeneration in humans, including the cardiac improvement when small clinical trials and pre-clinical trials are taking place. Therefore, stem cell therapy for cardiac regeneration in humans should not be taking place in large scale clinical trials until consistent results in hearts are found from pre-clinical or small clinical trials. This would allow scientists to identify, to the best of their ability,
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