Researchers say this slides shows immune cells, pictured in fluorescent green, and surrounding damage in the heart.
"[These cells] That's important, according to Deniset, because they have a limited ability to repair themselves. The heart beating properly and eventually leading to heart failure.
"We think this has been missed." Paul Kubes, director of the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases at the University of Calgary and one of the study's authors.
"Cells routinely discarded during surgery
Researchers in the hospital around their hearts are also looking at the cells they are using.
But the cells are literally left open during an open heart surgery – they are sucking their way through the pericardium – the sac surrounding the heart – to the heart itself.
"Unfortunately, because we never thought this fluid did anything, we just suck it away … and it goes straight to the garbage," said Dr. Paul Fedak, cardiac surgeon and incoming director of the Libyan Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta at the University of Calgary.
Now, doctors and scientists are rethinking that practice.
"Maybe we need to be restoring that fluid." Maybe we should be getting these cells and amplifying their response so … we've got a new avenue for potential therapies. "
According to Fedak, the next phase of research has already begun.
"I'm really excited about this because I think it opens doors to potential therapies," said Fedak who
"Can we take these cells, can we expand them, can we increase their numbers, can we reinject them into that space or directly into the heart?" possible. "