Patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) that are not eligible for transplantation have limited therapeutic options. Stem cell therapy such as autologous bone marrow, mobilized peripheral blood, or purified cells thereof has been used clinically since 2001. To date over 1000 patients have received cellular therapy as part of randomized trials, with the general consensus being that a moderate but statistically significant benefit occurs. Therefore, one of the important next steps in the field is optimization. In this paper we discuss three ways to approach this issue: a) increasing stem cell migration to the heart; b) augmenting stem cell activity; and c) combining existing stem cell therapies to recapitulate a "therapeutic niche". We conclude by describing a case report of a heart failure patient treated with a combination stem cell protocol in an attempt to augment beneficial aspects of cord blood CD34 cells and mesenchymal-like stem cells.
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