CALGARY - University of Calgary researchers say a newly discovered type of cell appears to repair heart damage in mice.

The scientists say they've found the same type of cell in humans and believe it could foster new therapies for heart disease.

Researcher and cardiac surgeon Paul Fedak says it is located in a sack of fluid that surrounds the heart and "may hold the secret to repair and regeneration of new heart muscle."

He says the fluid is often discarded during surgery but when scientists induced heart attacks in mice and left the fluid intact, the mice appeared to fare better than those without the fluid.

Fedak adds that the research is at a very early stage and requires further work to determine any therapeutic potential in humans.

The research was supported by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canada Research Chairs Program, and the National Institutes of Health. The study is published today in the journal Immunity.