baby4It appears feasible and safe to give babies an infusion of their stem cells after surgery to correct an incompletely formed heart, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2014.

The study involved 14 children who had undergone two or three palliative surgeries for hypoplastic left heart syndrome to redirect blood flow and allow the right side of the heart to take over the pumping function of the left side.

One month after the procedures, seven of the participants received an infusion of their heart stem cells obtained from cardiac tissue during the operation and grown to cluster in spherical structures (cardiosphere-derived cells).

Children who received the infusions suffered no complications, deaths, abnormal heart rhythms or tumors during the 18-month follow-up. They also had greater improvement in the heart’s pumping power, better weight gain and less heart failure than children treated with standard surgery alone.

A phase-2 clinical trial to test the efficacy of the treatment is underway.