ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Saving the lives of thousands of infants -- that's the goal of a new Mayo Clinic study that involves using stem cells to save a newborn's heart.
Mayo Clinic has gotten federal approval for the clinical study that's the first-of-its kind. They'll be using stem cells from babies' own umbilical cords to strengthen their hearts and extend their lives.
The stem cells support cell growth and development.
Right now about 1,000 babies are born every year in the U.S. with only half of a heart, and there's not much doctors can do besides risky surgeries that usually end in the heart giving out prematurely anyway.
If the umbilical procedure works it could buy more time as scientists scramble for a cure for the congenital defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome.
Some research suggested that half the children with HLHS don't even make it to their 5th birthday.
Besides changing the lives of those children, Mayo's stem cell study could unlock information for future treatments that would help the 19-thousand children born each year with other heart defects.
The study will begin as soon as Mayo finds 10 eligible candidates.
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