March 17th, 2011

Small Study May Help Revive Hope for Stem Cell Therapy

Stem cell therapy may help reverse long-term damage after MI, according to a small, preliminary study by a group led by Joshua Hare published in Circulation: Research. Eight patients with LV dysfunction after MI received injections of autologous bone marrow progenitor cells in the LV scar and surrounding area. At one year, as assessed by cardiac MRI, there was a significant decrease in end-diastolic volume (EDV), a trend towards decreased end-systolic volume (ESV), a significant reduction in infarct size, and improved regional function in the treated infarct zone.

Previous clinical studies found little effect on ejection fraction (EF). But the paper’s authors write that “a strong parallel decrease in both EDV and ESV” that they observed in their subjects means that “EF may not be a good outcome measure for studies of cell therapy for remodeled ventricles.”

The authors write that their study suggests that “human autologous bone marrow progenitor cells increase regional contractility of injected myocardial scar tissue within 3 months of treatment, and these functional changes are associated with later reverse remodeling.” They note that placebo-controlled trials with more patients are now underway.

“This therapy improved even old cardiac injuries,” said Hare, in an AHA press release. “Some of the patients had damage to their hearts from heart attacks as long as 11 years before treatment.”

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