Scientists have discovered the key to treating heart failure.
A new UK study shows that re-injected cardiac stem cells naturally home in on damaged regions of the heart to repair them.
The discovery could lead to less invasive treatments for heart failure, or early prevention of the condition that affects more than 750,000 Britons.
Heart failure occurs when the heart is too weak to pump blood around the body efficiently, leading to breathlessness, fatigue, and disability.
A leading cause of the condition is heart attacks, but it can also be triggered by genetic defects.
The new research set out to investigate the role of cardiac stem cells by removing them from rodents with heart failure.
Without the stem cells, the animals' hearts were unable to regenerate and recover.
When the cells were re-injected, they migrated naturally to where they were needed and began to carry out repairs.
Lead scientist Dr Georgina Ellison, from King's College London, said: ”It could be possible to replace the damaged cardiac stem cells or add new ones by growing them in the laboratory and administering them intravenously.”