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Strangers’ Stem Cells Effectively Repair Damaged Hearts

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Researchers report that stem cells donated by strangers provide a safe alternative to restoring heart tissue in heart attack cases.

This breakthrough study proves that anyone’s cells can be used to treat damaged heart tissue, which means stem cells can be banked for off-the-shelf use, similar to blood banks with no blood or tissue matching necessary.

Results from a heart study were revealed on Monday at an American Heart Association conference in California and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study used a specific type of stem cells from bone marrow on 30 patients who had suffered heart attacks years prior (some as long as 30-years), resulting in scar tissue, weakened hearts, and ineffective blog pumping. “These specific cells were used due to the fact that they lack a key feature on their surface that makes the immune system see them as foreign tissue and attack them,” said study’s leader, Dr. Joshua Hare, from the University of Miami.

Researchers asked participants to donate marrow via needle removal. The stem cells were then taken from the marrow, amplified at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University lab, and used for non-surgical treatment on the heart attack 15 patients. The remaining patients were given stem cells from their own marrow.

About a year later, both groups showed a reduction in scar tissue of approximately one-third, and reported increases in physical fitness, sex drive, and overall quality of life. Study doctors believe these heart patients will continue to improve over time.

“That opens up an entire new avenue for stem cell therapy,” says study leader, Dr. Joshua Hare of the University of Miami. “You could have the cells ready to go like a sophisticated version of a blood bank…and there’s no delay in having to create a cell therapy for each patient…it’s cheaper to make the donor cells, and a single marrow donor can supply enough cells to treat as many as 10 people.”

 

Source: The National Post

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