Stem cell therapy for cardiovascular disease: The demise of alchemy and rise of pharmacology

T. Jadczyk, A. Faulkner, P. Madeddu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Regenerative medicine holds great promise as a way of addressing the limitations of current treatments of ischaemic disease. In preclinical models, transplantation of different types of stem cells or progenitor cells results in improved recovery from ischaemia. Furthermore, experimental studies indicate that cell therapy influences a spectrum of processes, including neovascularization and cardiomyogenesis as well as inflammation, apoptosis and interstitial fibrosis. Thus, distinct strategies might be required for specific regenerative needs. Nonetheless, clinical studies have so far investigated a relatively small number of options, focusing mainly on the use of bone marrow-derived cells. Rapid clinical translation resulted in a number of small clinical trials that do not have sufficient power to address the therapeutic potential of the new approach. Moreover, full exploitation has been hindered so far by the absence of a solid theoretical framework and inadequate development plans. This article reviews the current knowledge on cell therapy and proposes a model theory for interpretation of experimental and clinical outcomes from a pharmacological perspective. Eventually, with an increased association between cell therapy and traditional pharmacotherapy, we will soon need to adopt a unified theory for understanding how the two practices additively interact for a patient's benefit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-268
Number of pages22
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • clinical trials
  • myocardial infarction
  • preclinical studies
  • regeneration
  • stem cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology

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