Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Adult stem cells successfully treat damaged hearts

Researchers at the Cedars Sinai Heart Institute have published research in the Lancet which shows patients' own adult stem cells can be used to reduce scarring and create more heart muscle.
“We were gratified to see that the scars shrank in patients who had gotten the cells,” Marban says. “Not only that, but these patients also had a big increase in living heart muscle. The regeneration of living tissue, or regrowth of lost tissue, which is what we were able to achieve, is encouraging.”

All of the patients were enrolled in the trial within 1.5 months of having a heart attack, and had their hearts scanned with an MRI. Seventeen of the patients had a biopsy of their heart tissue so the researchers could extract the heart’s stem cells and expand them in the lab; the researchers then re-infusing 12 million to 25 million new heart cells into each patient’s heart artery 1.5 months to 3 months later. The control patients received standard care of medications and monitoring to recover from their heart attack.

At six months and again at one year into the study, Marban and his colleagues took additional MRIs of the patients’ hearts, to measure any changes in the size of their scar tissue. The patients who had received the heart cells showed markedly smaller scars and more living tissue over time, compared with those who received standard therapy. In fact, new tissue formation increased by 60% on average, compared with scar shrinkage.