Thanks to the participation of families affected by HLHS, Timothy Nelson, M.D., Ph.D. director of Mayo Clinic’s Regenerative Medicine Consult Service and the Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, along with his team, are working to fulfill one of the program's goals: to develop a regenerative therapy for HLHS. Determining which types of stem cells have the most potential for those affected with HLHS is one of the first steps.
Most people think of embryonic cells when they hear the term "stem cell." Interestingly, there are many types of stem cells that reside in human tissue and some that can be created in the lab. The most common types of stem cells are: embryonic, perinatal, adult and bioengineered (lab-created). Dr Nelson's research focus is perinatal stem cells found in umbilical cord blood, adult stems cells found in bone marrow, and bioengineered cells.
So, what is the difference, and what do they do? To learn more, watch Dr. Nelson discuss stem cells and their importance in the video below.
Currently, the answer is there is no approved stem cell therapy for heart repair for HLHS. However, there is hope in emerging research studies and clinical trials, according to Dr. Nelson, who says it's understandable that people are looking to stem cells for hope. "It becomes much more real when you have a personal connection to a disease or illness where we don’t have good options."
Watch this blog for updates on clinical trials as they become available.
The Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) is a collaborative network of specialists bonded by the vision of delaying or preventing heart failure for individuals affected by congenital heart defects including HLHS. The specialized team is addressing the various aspects of these defects by using research and clinical strategies ranging from basic science to diagnostic imaging to regenerative therapies.