Cardiovascular diseases remain the leading cause of death in the developed world, accounting for more than 30% of all deaths. In a large proportion of these patients, acute myocardial infarction is usually the first manifestation, which might further progress to heart failure. In addition, the human heart displays a low regenerative capacity, leading to a loss of cardiomyocytes and persistent tissue scaring, which entails a morbid pathologic sequela. Novel therapeutic approaches are urgently needed. Stem cells, such as induced pluripotent stem cells or embryonic stem cells, exhibit great potential for cell-replacement therapy and an excellent tool for disease modeling, as well as pharmaceutical screening of novel drugs and their cardiac side effects. This review article covers not only the origin of stem cells but tries to summarize their translational potential, as well as potential risks and clinical translation.
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