In a small but extremely significant clinical trial, researchers have reportedly used autologous stem cell injections to help damaged heart tissue recover, reducing the size of enlarged hearts and improving heart function, in people who suffered heart attacks.
Dr. Joshua M. Hare, a professor of medicine and director of the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute at the University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine and his research team, conducted the experimental trial.The research team treated eight men, who had left ventricular dysfunction due to myocardial infarction, at an average of 5.7 years after the episode.
The men were injected with the Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), found in the bone marrow of adults, that was removed from the hip bone of each of the patients.
HSCs are multipotent stem cells that can form all types of blood cell including the myeloid cells, originating in the bone marrow or spinal cord.
Two different types of bone marrow stem cells, mononuclear and mesenchymal cells were injected directly to the damaged part of the heart using a special catheter. The researchers did not observe any significant gains while measuring ejection fractions (EF) in the patients, but cardiac chamber dimensions improved and so did the contractility of the heart.
The function of the heart muscle in the treated area improved in three months, positively affecting the heart contraction function while the infarct size reduced by 18.3% after one year. The enlarged heart reduced by 15 – 20% on an average after a year and the patients tolerated the procedures well, without any serious adverse effects.
The researchers stressed the need for larger trials and detailed study and Hare notes, “We can’t say whether that’ll be in three or seven years down the road. It’s hard to speculate precisely. But we’re talking sometime this decade.”