Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality, killing an estimated 17 million people each year. The European Society of Cardiology estimates that “every sixth man and every seventh woman in Europe will die from myocardial infarction (McMurray et al., 2012). Coronary artery revascularisation therapies are effective at restoring blood flow to the heart, however residual myocardial scarring remains permanently. Elimination of myocardial scarring and restoration of full cardiac function post-MI could eliminate the cascade of events that lead to heart failure. At present there is a total absence of effective therapies in this domain. Despite the great potential of stem cell therapy to date, the functional outcomes in clinical trials have not been satisfactory due to suboptimal localisation to implantation site, poor viability and low engraftment efficacy (Collins et al., 2007). Factors currently impeding cell viability and heart retention include:
- (i) injection site cell leakage and clearance
- (ii) mechanical insult during injection and delivery
- (iii) inadequate extracellular matrix cues at the site of transplantation
- (iv) subsequent apoptotic and necrotic cell death (Karoubi et al., 2009).