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Feds OK stem cell-related trial at Mayo

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Federal officials have given the Mayo Clinic approval for a clinical trial to study whether stem cells from an infant's own umbilical cord can ultimately strengthen the hearts of babies born with heart defects, the Star Tribune reports.

About 1,000 infants are born each year in this country with half a heart, which requires risky surgeries, the newspaper reports. Now Mayo plans to study the a technique, which researchers hope could at least lengthen the children's lives as scientists continue to seek a cure for the congenital defect known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), the Star Tribune reports.

Here's more on Mayo's blog about HLHS. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also explain more in plain language about the condition, its causes and risk factors.

Ultimately, the Mayo study could lead to other breakthroughs in stem cell treatments that might help the 19,000 children born each year with other heart defects, although for now, doctors are focused on helping children born with HLHS, the Star Tribune reports.

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