Stem Cells Transplanted from Marrow into Heart May Improve Heart's Performance

Over the past four years, the Reina Sofía hospital in Córdoba, Spain has been conducting clinical trials using stem cells to treat patients who have suffered one or more heart attacks. One trial in particular, completed in 2007, concluded that one type of stem cell therapy showed great promise. The test consisted of 30 patients who had suffered severe myocardial infarction, or an obstruction of a main coronary artery. One third of the patients received standard treatment; the second group was treated with a medication called G-CSF, which makes cells move from the marrow to the blood, thereby reaching the heart. The third group received stem cells from their bone marrow, which were implanted directly into the coronary artery via catheter.

The trial found that the patients who received the direct injection of stem cells showed greater improvement in ventricular function than the other two test groups. These patients showed a decrease in cardiac failure symptoms including pain, fatigue and breathlessness after physical activity.

The test further found that the stem cells perform two beneficial functions. Not only do the stem cells regenerate the cardiomiocites, or heart cells, they also lead to the production of blood vessels.

The Area of Cell Therapy, led by Dr. Herrera, is currently developing other trials in the cardiology department. The various trials are aimed to help patients with acute myocardial infarction, those with chronic ischemic cardiopathy, and for patients with dilated myocardiopathy. The cause of this disease is unknown, and causes severe cardiac failure and in many cases requires the patient receive a heart transplant.

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