DALLAS, Oct. 14 – Infusing a patient’s own cells into a heart artery several days after a heart attack speeds the healing process and strengthens the heart’s pumping power, researchers report in today’s rapid access issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
In a small study of heart attack patients, German researchers extracted progenitor cells from patient’s blood or bone marrow and infused them into an artery. Progenitor cells are derived from stem cells, which have the potential to develop into any cell in the body. Progenitor cells are already on their way to becoming a specific type of cell.
“The infusion of progenitor cells was associated with a reduction in the size of muscle damage, a significant improvement in pumping function, and less enlargement of the heart within four months after a heart attack,” said co-author Andreas M. Zeiher, M.D., chairman of the department of internal medicine at the University of Frankfurt in Germany.
This latest report comes after a recent report about bone marrow stem cells merging with brain Purkinje neurons rather than forming new cells. The authors of that report voiced skepticism that bone marrow stem cells will ultimately prove to be useful in treating conditions in a large number of different types of tissue. This latest report from the University of Frankfurt did not use enough patients or double-blinded controls and will need to be followed up by a larger study with better controls. But it is promising.
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