UCL Institute of Cardiovascular Science


Regenerative medicine



The heart does not function as well when we get older or after it has been damaged. Stem cells, found in our own bone marrow, have the ability to help repair the heart naturally. We are taking these stem cells and transplanting them into the hearts of patients with heart attacks, heart failure, or those with genetic disorders of the heart. So far we have treated over 170 patients and are awaiting the definitive results of our trials. In addition, we can introduce natural protective genes into the heart by using a harmless virus as a transporter. This work is now moving into human trials, after successful animal trials.

For patients with acute heart attack, our research uses stem cells from a patient’s own (autologous) bone marrow attempt to repair the heart. Uniquely, we give the cells within six hours of the onset of the heart attack. This is a clinical trial designed to make a treatment that is cost-effective and efficient for use within the NHS. Normally trials of new therapeutics are directed by industry; however ours is run by academics. The trial is funded by the UK Stem Cell Foundation and the Heart Cells Foundation. We are performing similar trials for the treatment of chronic heart failure in patients where there is no further treatment possible by conventional means, and are looking to forward to future work in dilated cardiomyopathy, a cause sudden death in the young.

Currently, our work has extended to leading on a European Commission funded clinical trial of 3,000 patients who are to be treated for heart attack with autologous bone marrow stem cells. This will take place in 27 European hospitals.

Key research activities

Therapeutic Stent
Gene Therapy
Animal Models
New Treatments