A medical trial is to be carried out into a new treatment for heart attack patients, which involves administering injections of stem cells.
Doctors at St Bart's Hospital and University College Hospital in London will inject stem cells directly into the hearts of 50 patients within five hours of them suffering a heart attack.
The stem cells will be taken from each patient's own bone marrow, thereby reducing the ethical issues associated with the technology.
Previous evidence has shown that stem cells can be used to repair the damage sustained by heart muscle during a heart attack and the medical trial should help to determine the effectiveness of such a treatment.
Heart attacks kill around 108,000 people in the UK each year, and the new treatment could help to reduce fatalities and limit the cost to the economy, which is currently estimated at around £7 billion per year.
"If we can demonstrate improvement in the quality of life of patients then this will be a significant step forward in the treatment of heart disease," said Dr Anthony Mathur, consultant cardiologist at the London Chest Hospital.
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