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Treating Heart Attack With Stem Cell Injection

Armen Hareyan's picture

A new trial by University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston will use adult stem cells as a new treatment for heart attack patients.

Adult stem cells are known to have the ability in turning into any kind of tissue. This property was believed to belong to embryonic stem cells only. Researchers will inject adult stem cells to hearts hoping them to turn into blood vessels and heart muscle cells. In case of success, the method will protect patients from developing further heart failure.

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About 1 million Americans suffer from heart attack annually. Heart attack leads to further weakening of heart and developing heart failure. Heart failure itself affects about 550000 new people annually. In average 5 million Americans live with this condition. About 30% of all heart attack patients develop heart failure later in life.

Researchers decided to take bone marrow stem cells, because these cells have greater plasticity compared to other adult stem cells, and immune system doesn't reject these cells. Research aims at preventing heart failure rather than waiting for heart condition worsen.

"I think this is the most exciting stem-cell therapy in heart research today," said Dr. Emerson Perin from Stem Cell Center at the Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital. "Because these new cell types are so powerful and they delivered directly to the heart damage, it should be great at promoting healing."

The trial has already stem cell injected one 65 year old heart attack patient. Researchers plan to enroll 24 more patients within a year and develop the new treatment within 5 years. Trial will be conducted in three phases with each phase with mire stem cell injections.