July 2016

Doctor James Chong has won a major prize for his work, which uses stem cells to help reverse the effects of heart failure.

Dr James Chong was today awarded the Metcalf Prize from the National Stem Cell Foundation on the back of his research, which used stem cells to repair heart damage.

Dr Chong plans to use the $50,000 winnings to continue his research into the potentially life-saving treatment.

“My hope is that one day this could even replace the need for whole heart transplantation,” Dr Chong told 9NEWS.

“That’s a fair way down the track and that’s a big ask, but who knows.”

In research conducted at the Westmead Institute and Sydney University, Dr Chong tested the use of human stem cells to reverse the effects of a heart attack.

So far, research has been partially successful.

It has been proved stem cells can produce beating heart cells, which are then able to be injected into the heart.

But the treatment can cause abnormal heart rhythms to develop.

“All efforts are towards solving this next problem of electrical abnormalities so we can take it into the clinical trial stage and treat patients,” Dr Chong said.

If successful, the medical breakthrough could bring good news for those with heart conditions.

Sydney man Clarrie Chang admitted he is lucky to be alive after a “really severe” heart attack last year.

“I did muscle damage as well as a blocked artery,” Mr Chang said.

Mr Chang now needs daily medication to keep his heart functioning.

More than 50,000 Australians experienced heart failure in 2015.

Dr Chong hopes human trials will be able to occur within three years.