The following paper gives an overview of the current status of stem cell use in vascular medicine. The role of endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) is discussed. Different approaches to use cellular based concepts are outlined: among these are the treatment of patients with critical ischemia with bone marrow derived mononuclear cells as well as our own experience with purified and highly selected CD133 and CD34 cells. The pro and cons of these different treatment regimens are discussed. An outlook is given discussing a combination of gene therapy and stem cell injections. The clinical and laboratory results of 15 patients with end-stage critical ischemia are discussed with implications for future clinical trials. We conclude that, despite all open questions, the outlook for EPC-based therapies for tissue ischemia and blood vessel repair appears promising.
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