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Adult Stem Cells Healing Hearts

David Prentice, Family Research Council, February 26, 2010

Adult stem cells are being more and more used in patients to achieve effects.  In the treatment of patients with heart failure, Dr. David Prentice, discussed two studies in which adult stem cells appear to have some benefit. 

The first study was the result of a Brazil-Florida joint effort in which it was discovered that adult stem cells injected directly into the heart could relieve angina. These data are not all that surprising given that the first use of stem cells for heart failure involved a similar injection procedure in Japan more than a decade ago.   Stem cell administration for cardiac conditions has been performed in numerous clinical trials, here is a link to a video on a previously published Phase III study in patients who previously had a heart attack

In the current study eight patients were received the stem cell treatment and according to the principle investigator Dr. Nelson Americo Hossne, Jr, all of the patients treated exhibited some degree of improvement.  The study suggested that the patients improved through stimulation of production of new blood vessels.  Furthermore, the authors believed that the cells and the procedure used to administer them are safe and effective. 

Dr. Hossne stated "For our patients, angina symptom relief began as early as three months post-procedure with continuing improvement through the twelfth month and sustained improvement past 18 months. Symptom relief improved in all patients, suggesting that the effect is sustained, not transitory."

The second study that Dr. Prentice discussed is from a Chinese group in which the protein apelin was demonstrated to have an effect on the ability of cardiac regenerative mechanisms.  In the study, 20 heart failure patients were treated with their own bone marrow, 20 received placebo, and 20 healthy patients were compared for control.  All twenty of the heart failure patients treated with adult stem cells showed significant improvement in cardiac function within 21 days of treatment, while the standard medication patients showed no improvement. The patients who received stem cells demonstrated a significant increase in levels of apelin, which correlated with the recovery of cardiac function.

Dr. Amit Patel, a world-recognized stem cell pioneer, professor at University of Utah School of Medicine and an Editor of the journal in which the papers were published stated: "Both studies demonstrate a possible mechanistic approach in a clinical trial. These important findings further enhance the understanding of the use of bone marrow derived cell therapy for the treatment of cardiovascular disease."

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