Adult stem cells therapy can fix a broken heart?

Mary sent me this article from the Irish Times.

Excerpt:

A new US study in which patients had their hearts repaired with stem cells has brought regenerative treatments for heart attacks a step closer.

The therapy, reported today in the Lancet  medical journal, halved the extent of normally permanent scarring on the heart, and led to the growth of new heart muscle.

However, the treatment produced no significant change in “ejection fraction” – a measure of the heart’s pumping capacity.

The Caduceus trial recruited a total of 25 patients with an average age of 53 who had all suffered a heart attack in the previous month.

Some 17 patients received coronary artery infusions of 12 to 25 million stem cells derived from healthy tissue taken from their own hearts. The remaining eight underwent standard post-heart attack care.

A year later, the proportion of the heart left scarred in the stem cell-treated patients had been reduced from 24 per cent to 12 per cent. No change was seen in patients who did not receive the treatment.

Professor Eduardo Marban, director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, who led the US team, said: “The effects are substantial, and surprisingly larger in humans than they were in animal tests.

“This discovery challenges the conventional wisdom that, once established, scar is permanent and that, once lost, healthy heart muscle cannot be restored.”

The Phase I study, which was chiefly conducted to evaluate safety, was published today in an online edition of the Lancet.  It follows a similar trial by US scientists at Harvard Medical School and the University of Louisville whose findings were reported last year, also in the Lancet.

That study, which used a different kind of heart stem cell, produced a 12 per cent average increase in ejection fraction.

Yet another breakthrough for ethical adult stem cells.

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