home
RSS
Stem cells vs. heart attacks
November 6th, 2012
01:47 PM ET

Stem cells vs. heart attacks

For years it was thought that most damage from a major heart attack was permanent:  Dead tissue turns to scar tissue, leading to the heart muscle’s gradual deterioration.

But now, there is growing optimism that stem cell therapy may help patients with damaged hearts return to a fully functional life, based on results from early studies.

Of course, larger studies have to confirm the results and the devil is in the details. Those details were on display in a series of five presentations Tuesday at the American Heart Association conference in Los Angeles.

Most promising was long-term data on 20 patients with severe, long-term heart failure stemming from past heart attacks.  These patients not only improved dramatically after receiving an infusion of their own heart stem cells, but continued to get better two full years after treatment.

“That’s from just one injection of these cells,” says Dr. Roberto Bolli, the lead researcher and chief of cardiology at the University of Louisville.  Such improvement is virtually unheard of, he explains.  With standard care, “we know that these patients don’t get better with time because once you have a scar, you have a scar.”

The patients were treated, on average, three and a half years after their heart attack.  Two years after the stem cell infusion, scar tissue was reduced by nearly half, the heart muscle was more flexible and pumped blood more efficiently and the patients’ quality of life was dramatically improved.

Cardiac stem cells were also used in another study, involving six patients in Japan.

Three other studies presented at the AHA conference tried a different approach, using stem cells derived from bone marrow. These produced more modest benefits.  

Two studies experimented with timing: giving stem cell infusions either days or weeks after the heart attack, in an effort to prevent scarring.

In one of those studies, researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine used bone marrow-derived cells to treat patients whose heart attacks left them with long-term heart trouble.  They reported moderate benefits, including better performance on a test of walking endurance.

In perhaps the most significant finding, no one in any of the research projects suffered significant negative effects.

“At this point, we’ve had almost 3,000 heart patients treated with stem cells worldwide, and had absolutely no report of serious adverse effects,” says Bolli. “Stem cells seem to do no harm, and there’s certainly a lot of evidence that they are beneficial.”

The University of Miami-led study was seen as important because researchers tested an important variation.  About half of the 31 patients in the study received an infusion of their own stem cells, while the other half got stem cells from healthy donors.

Dr. Denis Buxton, an official at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), which funded the research, said donor cells offer potential advantages. “One, it simplifies logistics, so a hospital without a cell processing facility can still perform the treatment.”  That would also reduce the cost.

In addition, Buxton says donated cells are likely to be more robust than cells from heart patients, who tend to be older and have chronic health problems.

“Stem cells are adversely affected by age and diabetes,” says Dr. Jay Traverse, an associate professor of medicine at the Minnesota Heart Institute and the University of Minnesota, who presented a study using people's own bone-marrow stem cells. “If you could use cells from a healthy young donor, that would be ideal.”

Traverse is now preparing to embark on a multi-center study using donated cardiac stem cells to treat heart attack patients.   The project has NHLBI funding and is led by Dr. Eduardo Marban of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.  Traverse says the approach is promising because cardiac stem cells are naturally programmed to generate new heart tissue.  By one estimate, he says, an individual’s heart will replace every cell eight times over the course of a lifetime.

In a pilot study of 17 patients, presented last year, Marban used patients’ own heart cells to regrow more than a third of lost tissue.  Traverse says that if donor cells prove safe –- as they seem to be, based on Tuesday’s presentations -– it would open the door to use the treatment much more widely.  The first patient will be treated this month.

While acknowledging that questions remain –- about timing, the type of cells to use and the method of delivery, to name a few –- Traverse sounds supremely confident. “In the long run, this is definitely going to work," he says.  " In 10 to 20 years, I think we’ll be able to change the natural history of a heart attack.”


soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. Delmar Damphousse

    This was awesome! I would like you to clean up all this spam though

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/yusufhanafy

    June 4, 2021 at 02:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Armando Kesson

    This was awesome! I would like you to clean up all this spam though

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/yusufhanafy

    June 4, 2021 at 21:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. buy cialis

    tadalafil online with out prescription cialis 20mg tadalafil daily online

    June 4, 2021 at 22:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. tadalafil dosage

    tadalafil vidalista tadalafil daily online vivida tablets

    June 5, 2021 at 23:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. chloroquine 20

    chloroquine side effects nice bnf drug chloroquine

    June 6, 2021 at 12:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Camellia Alzate

    This was great! I would like you to clean up all this spam though

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/yusufhanafy

    June 7, 2021 at 05:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Ian Wickers

    This was awesome! I would like you to clean up all this spam though

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/yusufhanafy

    June 9, 2021 at 08:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Louisa Yagi

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is essentially a video game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these Second Life articles and blogs

    http://everydayliteracies.blogspot.com/2010/08/weve-got-to-auditorium-in-good-time-for.html

    June 12, 2021 at 19:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Marcos Bravo

    I don't know about you all but I love airplanes. I have a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2010/06/china-de-regulates-first-and-business-class-tickets/

    http://urlm.co/g/c/f/163873

    June 13, 2021 at 06:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Leo Thibeault

    I don't know about you people but I am obsessed with airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2010/08/body-scanners-are-coming-to-seattle/

    http://www.doc-txt.com/Boeing-Everett-Museum.pdf

    June 13, 2021 at 06:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Erich Halim

    I don't know about you all but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loves airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2011/01/video-the-first-boeing-747-8-intercontinental-has-a-first-simulated-flight/

    http://everydayliteracies.blogspot.com/2009/11/?m=0

    June 13, 2021 at 20:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Kimber Wisseh

    I don't know about you all but I am obsessed with airplanes. I have a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2010/03/boeing-787-dreamliner-za003-and-boeing-747-8f-rc522-take-flight-today/

    http://everydayliteracies.blogspot.com/2008/10/studs-terkel-and-fabric-of-social-life.html

    June 14, 2021 at 00:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Pearly Almengor

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is essentially a video game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these sl articles and blogs

    http://lostbiro.com/blog/?paged=37

    June 15, 2021 at 07:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Delmy Bellavance

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a game where you can do anything you want. sl is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these second life authors and blogs

    http://everydayliteracies.blogspot.com/2004/11/latest-internet-use-statistics.html

    June 21, 2021 at 20:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. pharmacepticacom

    research chemicals tadalafil https://www.pharmaceptica.com/

    June 26, 2021 at 11:01 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.