Researchers hope this procedure becomes a much-needed alternative to heart transplants.

Japan Times »

In the clinical project to verify the safety and efficacy of the therapy using induced pluripotent stem cells, Yoshiki Sawa, a professor in the university’s cardiovascular surgery unit, and colleagues aim to transplant heart muscle cell sheets over the course of three years into 10 patients suffering from serious heart malfunction caused by ischemic cardiomyopathy.

As part of its first step in the project, the team conducted an operation on a patient this month, which was a success. The patient has since moved to the general ward at a hospital.

The cells on the degradable sheets attached to the surface of the patients’ hearts are expected to grow and secrete a protein that can regenerate blood vessels and improve cardiac function. The iPS cells have already been derived from healthy donors’ blood cells and stored.