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Severe Heart Attack Treated with Stem Cells

Deutsche Welle, September 18, 2007

The success story of a 64-year-old patient who was treated with adult stem cells was reported by Düsseldorf's Rheinische Post newspaper. The patient was treated by cardiologists at Düsseldorf University Hospital.

After suffering a severe heart attack, the patient was on the verge of dying according to Bodo-Eckehard Stauer, the director of the cardiology department at Düsseldorf University Hospital. The patient showed no signs of improvement during his stay in the intensive care unit which lasted a period of seven weeks.

The decision was made to administer stem cell therapy to the patient. Doctors were able to admit the patient to a rehabilitation center after he improved enough to leave intensive care. The change in his condition only took nine days after stem cell therapy.

The cells were inserted into the artery that was damaged by infarction with the help of a balloon catheter. The adult stem cells were initially extracted from the patients own bone marrow.

The procedure took about a half hour.

Stauer said that using stem cells for the first time ever to treat cardiogenic shock was a "global innovation". Cardiogenic shock is the inadequate delivery of oxygen to the heart tissues.

This recent success and other preceding accomplishments involving adult stem cells has created more debate in the realm of embryonic stem cells research.

Non-embryonic stem cell research will get a boost from the German government which had promised to allocate five million euros ($6.9 million) over the next three years towards the science.

Cells for the brain, blood, bones, and other tissues of the body can be developed from stem cells. The regeneration of organs or tissues can be accomplished with stem cells and numerous conditions such as Alzheimer's could potentially be cured.

Some scientists say the most promising cells are those taken from human embryos, despite the fact that they have consistently been proven dangerous and unsuccessful.

However, in Germany, a ban on embryonic stem cells remains. Due to the countries history of experimentation to create a "master race", genetic research in general is highly controversial.

Germany has prohibited the production of embryonic cells from pre-existing stem cell lines since 2002. To ensure that foreign laboratories do not create new lines for the German market, scientists are also not permitted to research on any lines produced after Jan. 1, 2002.

Some say a scientific disadvantage has been created because of the German prohibitions.

But critics of embryonic stem cell research say that the need for cells derived from human embryos is negated by progress using adult stem cells. The cardiac patient in Düsseldorf and other cases are often cited as proof of adult stem cell success. There are no such examples that exist related to embryonic stem cells.


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