SingularityHub, 2/12/2012: Today we learn that a team of University of Louisville doctors at Jewish Hospital will soon perform the first phase one FDA-approved clinical trial using adult cardiac stem cells to treat heart disease. Amazing…yes, but as is commonly the case these days, other parts of the world have already been performing this same procedure for many years. We thus witness once again the interesting phenomenon where cutting edge medical therapies are increasingly being first pioneered outside of the United States, where researchers are unburdened by the strict regulations imposed in the United States by the moral conscience of its citizens and the FDA. It will be interesting to watch this phenomenon continue to unfold in the coming years. . .
BBC News 2/13, 2012: A trial, at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, was designed to test the safety of using stem cells taken from a heart attack patient’s own heart. Within a month of a heart attack, a tube was inserted into a vein in the patient’s neck and was pushed down towards the heart. A sample of heart tissue, about “half the size of a raisin”, was taken. This was taken to the laboratory where the stem cells were isolated and grown. Up to 25 million of these stem cells were then put into the arteries surrounding the heart. Twenty five patients took part in the trial. Before the treatment, scar tissue accounted for an average of 24% of their left ventricle, a major chamber of the heart. It went down to 16% after six months and 12% after a year. Healthy heart muscle appeared to take its place. The study said the cells, “have an unprecedented ability to reduce scar and simultaneously stimulate the re-growth of healthy [heart] tissue”.
Healing the heart
This is the second group of UK doctors to report using cells taken from a heart to heal a heart. In November 2011, another safety trial showed the cells could be used to heal the hearts of heart failure patients who were having heart bypass surgery. The heart is not the only source for these stem cells and other fields are much further ahead. The largest ever trial of stem cell therapy in heart attack patients is about to get under way in Europe. The BAMI trial will inject 3,000 heart attack patients with stem cells taken from their bone marrow within five days of the heart attack.
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