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Treating Heart Attack Patients With Their Own Stem Cells

April 19, 2017

Scientists at Barts Hospital, London, UK, are launching a trial to find out whether a heart attack patient's own bone marrow stem cells can be injected back into him/her to repair the damaged heart muscle. The stem cells would be injected into the patient within five hours of the heart attack.

Bart Hospital is currently in the middle of a trial to see if adult stem cells, from bone marrow, can repair damaged heart muscles. The trial is perfecting ways to administer the cells to patients. Results so far are promising that this therapy does help repair the heart muscles. A patient's second heart attack is generally much more dangerous and life-threatening than his/her first one.

Currently, angioplasty, which clears clogged up arteries, is a common procedure for heart attack patients. Angioplasty, if carried out early enough after an attack, helps the patient survive. This clot-busting therapy, however, does not reverse the damage to the heart muscle. In other words, over the long term, the patient is still vulnerable to heart attacks and heart problems.

In this new trial, stem cell injections will be used in combination with angioplasty. The aim is to help the patient both in the short and long term. The researchers say they expect the trial to involve about 100 patients, who will come from the London Chest Hospital and the Heart Hospital, London.

Professor John Martin, one of the designers of this trial, said "Previous studies in the heart have shown that stem cell delivery to the heart is safe. We will show whether it works in acute heart attack. Our study combines the two new ways of treating heart attack victims for the first time."

As the stem cells come from the patient, the researchers expect there will be few ethical issues. The chances of rejection complications will also be much lower, for the same reason (they are the patient's own cells).

The trial will be funded by the UK Stem Cell Foundation, the London Development Agency and William and Judith Bollinger (William Bollinger is the founder of Egerton Capital).

"Pioneering research on heart attack patients at Barts and The London NHS Trust"
Barts and The London NHS Trust
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