A preliminary study found that treatment with adult stem cells, which may have the potential to help millions of people who suffer from severe coronary artery disease is “well tolerated” by patients.
Monday, researchers at the Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics conference in Washington said that among 18 patients who had bone marrow injected into their hearts to heal tissue, after one year, there were no deaths or heart attacks. Reversing heart attack damage is the goal and researchers are excited to learn if stem cells originating from bone marrow can transform treatment for cardiac patients in this manner. The decision to begin a second trial, this time involving 150 patients, is supported by the primary findings.
"We have reached a milestone in exploring further a much-needed therapy for this patient population," said the leader of the first study, Douglas, in statement. Douglas is the chief of cardiovascular research at Caritas St. Elizabeth's Medical Center in Boston.
15 of the patients said they had less chest pain and more ability to exercise after the injections.
Prior studies involving animals demonstrated that injecting stem cells into the heart could help repair or regenerate damaged tissue in the cardiac muscle.
According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, coronary artery disease is the primary cause of death in the United States and affects 13 million Americans. The hardening and narrowing of vessels is due to the buildup of fatty deposits on the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. This process may eventually lead to a heart attack.