Researchers use stem cells to regrow heart muscle

ABC World News reported that in a new study, “heart attack patients were treated with their own stem cells injected directly into their hearts and they grew new heart muscle.”

USA Today reports, “While it’s too soon to know if the technique will help patients live longer, the study is the second small, promising study of cardiac stem cells in three months.”

The Los Angeles Times “Booster Shots” blog reports that “the small preliminary study, which was conducted by the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, involved 25 patients who had suffered heart attacks in the previous one and a half to three months.”

Investigators gave “seventeen of the study subjects…infusions of stem cells cultured from a raisin-sized chunk of their own heart tissue, which had been removed via catheter.” The other participants “received standard care.”

Bloomberg News reports that the “17 who got the stem cell treatment showed a 50 percent reduction in cardiac scar tissue compared with no improvement for the eight who received standard care.”

However, “the amount of blood flowing out of the heart, or the ejection fraction, wasn’t different between the control group and stem-cell therapy group.”

The findings, “from the first of three sets of clinical trials generally needed for regulatory approval, were published … in the medical journal Lancet.”

HeartWire reports that “the amount of viable heart mass and regional contractility were also improved” in patients treated with stem cells.

HealthDay reports, “After six months, four patients in the stem-cell group experienced serious adverse events compared with only one patient in the control group.” At twelve months, “two more stem-cell patients had a serious complication.” But just “one such event – a heart attack – might have been related to the treatment, according to the study.”

The CNN “The Chart” blog reports, “Sonia Skarlatos, Ph.D and deputy director of the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences at the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute says this early research is very exciting and a move in the right direction.”

Skarlatos “cautions that this procedure has to be tested on many more patients and they have to be observed for longer periods than in the current study, but she says these results are all very positive. She is hopeful further studies will confirm these early results.”

Skarlatos “was not involved in the research,” which was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

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