Cell therapy may mend damaged hearts: Study

Washington: Heart failure patients who are treated with stem cell therapy may have fewer cardiac events, researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have found.

End-stage heart failure patients treated with stem cells harvested from their own bone marrow experienced 37 per cent fewer cardiac events – including hospital admissions related to heart failure – than a placebo-controlled group, researchers said.

“For the last 15 years everyone has been talking about cell therapy and what it can do. These results suggest that it really works,” said Amit N Patel from University of Utah in the US.

The largest cell therapy trial for treating heart failure to date randomly assigned cell therapy or placebo to 126 patients with end-stage ischemic heart failure.

A small amount of bone marrow was drawn from each patient and two types of stem cells, mesenchymal stem cells and M2 macrophages, were selected and expanded in the laboratory.

The multicellular therapy, called ixmyelocel-T, was then injected into the heart using a minimally invasive procedure.

A 3-dimensional electrochemical technique mapped damaged areas in the heart, and cells were delivered directly to them via catheter.

Assessments at 1, 3, 6 and 12 months after treatment showed that cell therapy patients had fewer side effects and complications than the placebo group.

At one year, all cardiac events were catalogued, including deaths, and heart-related hospitalisations and unplanned clinic visits, researchers said.

The double-blind trial found that the group treated with cell therapy had fewer deaths compared to the placebo group and fewer heart failure related hospitalisations, contributing to a 37 per cent overall reduction in cardiac events, they said.

“This is the first trial of cell therapy showing that it can have a meaningful impact on the lives of patients with heart failure,” said Patel.

Other cell therapy trials tested single stem cell populations and did not report impacts on the end results of death or other heart related clinical outcomes, researchers said.

The findings were published in the journal Lancet.