Cardiac damage following a heart attack can be combated with a patient’s own stem cells, stem cell researchers have discovered.
Heart failure manifests as fatigue and shortness of breath, and is caused by cardiac muscle damage, which reduces the heart’s function. While traditional treatments seek to ease symptoms, the recent stem cell research breakthrough goes further to repair the heart with an injection of 1 million stem cells from other parts of the patient’s own heart.
Dr. Piero Anversa (Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School) and Dr. Roberto Bolli (University of Louisville) carried out the research study, which was published in The Lancet medical journal. The findings were also presented at the 2011 scientific meeting of the American Heart Association.
The study was originally intended to find out if the procedure was safe, with findings that it also enhanced heart function coming as an added bonus. The study represents the first time cardiac stem cells have been used in humans, though previous research carried out on animals yielded encouraging results.
The trial, called Scipio, involved the infusion of cardiac stem cells in 14 patients suffering from heart failure as a result of heart attack. The cells were taken from the patients’ hearts during the bypass and then used to produce 2 million cells per patient in the lab. The infusion was carried out four months after the bypass surgery.
Though progress was initially evident after four months, the heart’s pumping capacity saw a 12% boost in 12 months.
According to researcher in the field and chairman in cardiology at the National Heart and Lung Institute Professor Michael Schneider, the ultimate stage of the breakthrough would be stimulating stem cell growth into heart muscle independently without removing the cells from the patient first.
Some researchers have said that using bone marrow stem cells would be more beneficial and that more comprehensive studies should be conducted. Dr. Bolli has ventured that stem cells from the heart may be more effective because “their natural function is to replace the cells that continuously die in the heart due to wear and tear.”
Dr. Bolli plans to begin the next phase of trials in 2012.
RNL Founds Stem Cell Medical Center In Beijing
Stem cell firm RNL BIO has opened the biggest dedicated stem cell medical center in the world at the Yanda International Medical Research Institute in Beijing. The center is more than 41,500 square feet in size, and can store stem cells from 20,000 patients.
Yanda Group and RNL will operate the center in tandem, the former will carry out clinical research and patient treatment while the latter will be in charge of stem cell storage.
Geron Corp To Layoff 40% Of Workforce
In other stem-call leadership updates, US stem cell company Geron Corp has put an end to its human embryonic stem cell research program due to legislation and costs. The California-based company is to focus its attention on cancer drug research.
This change will see Geron axe more than 65 full-time positions, or close to 40% of its workforce.
Key Statistics – Stem Cell Market for Oncology (source: BCC Research)
- South and Latin America are a leading region for stem cell anticancer therapies, worth almost $55 million in 2010 and forecast to expand to $110 million in 2015.
- Stem cell anticancer therapeutics represented a market worth over $345 million in North America alone in 2010, forecast to grow 8% yearly to 2015 to reach almost $510 million.
- The world market for stem cell anticancer therapies was worth almost $860 million in 2010, forecast to reach $1.5 billion in 2015.