Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • Between Bedside and Bench
  • Published:

Is heart regeneration on the right track?

Myocardial infarction can cause irreversible heart muscle cell damage and lingering cardiac problems that can eventually lead to heart failure. For over a decade, researchers have been trying to coax stem cells to differentiate into cardiomyocytes to repair damaged heart tissue, with limited success. In 'Bedside to Bench', Christine L. Mummery and Richard T. Lee lay out a framework for re-evaluating cardiac cell therapies in the context of two recent clinical trials, in which autologous cardiac stem cells derived from heart biopsies were transferred into patients, with promising, albeit difficult to interpret, results. Results from previous clinical trials using autologous bone marrow–derived adult stem cells to induce cardiac regeneration add to the debate about how to cautiously move forward in the cardiac regeneration field and to the questions that need to be urgently answered at the bench. In 'Bench to Bedside', Young-Jae Nam, Kunhua Song and Eric N. Olson discuss a number of recent studies in rodents showing that cardiac fibroblasts can be reprogrammed, via miRNAs and a transcription factor 'cocktail', to express cardiac genes, which resulted in improved cardiac function in the animals, suggesting a new way forward for fixing damaged heart tissue.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout


  1. Passier, R., van Laake, L.W. & Mummery, C.L. Nature 453, 322–329 (2008).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. van Laake, L.W. et al. Stem Cell Res. 1, 9–24 (2007).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Shiba, Y. et al. Nature 489, 322–325 (2012).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Ardehali, R. et al. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 110, 3405–3410 (2013).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Chugh, A.R. et al. Circulation 126, S54–S64 (2012).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Makkar, R.R. et al. Lancet 379, 895–904 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Bearzi, C. et al. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 104, 14068–14073 (2007).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Davis, D.R., Ruckdeschel Smith, R. & Marbán, E. Stem Cells 28, 903–904 (2010).

    Google Scholar 

  9. Wollert, K.C. et al. Lancet 364, 141–148 (2004).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Marbán, E. & Malliaras, K. J. Am. Med. Assoc. 308, 2405–2406 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Murry, C.E. et al. Nature 428, 664–668 (2004).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Balsam, L.B. et al. Nature 428, 668–673 (2004).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Martin-Rendon, E. et al. Cochrane Database Syst. Rev. CD006536 (2008).

  14. Jopling, C. et al. Nature 464, 606–609 (2010).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Kikuchi, K. et al. Nature 464, 601–605 (2010).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Porrello, E.R. et al. Science 331, 1078–1080 (2011).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Christine L Mummery.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

R.T.L. is a founder of and consultant to Provasculon. C.L.M. is a founder of and consultant to Pluriomics.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Mummery, C., Lee, R. Is heart regeneration on the right track?. Nat Med 19, 412–413 (2013).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing