Cell-based therapies and imaging in cardiology
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Cell therapy for cardiac repair has emerged as one of the most exciting and promising developments in cardiovascular medicine. Evidence from experimental and clinical studies is increasing that this innovative treatment will influence clinical practice in the future. But open questions and controversies with regard to the basic mechanisms of this therapy continue to exist and emphasise the need for specific techniques to visualise the mechanisms and success of therapy in vivo. Several non-invasive imaging approaches which aim at tracking of transplanted cells in the heart have been introduced. Among these are direct labelling of cells with radionuclides or paramagnetic agents, and the use of reporter genes for imaging of cell transplantation and differentiation. Initial studies have suggested that these molecular imaging techniques have great potential. Integration of cell imaging into studies of cardiac cell therapy holds promise to facilitate further growth of the field towards a broadly clinically useful application.