March 18, 2011
Researchers have used patients' own adult stem cells to shrink enlarged hearts, showing that adult stem cells injected into enlarged hearts can reduce heart size, reduce scar tissue and improve function to injured heart areas. The results of the small initial clinical trial, testing the treatment on eight patients, were published in the journal Circulation Research. Senior author Dr. Joshua Hare of the University of Miami noted that more than five million Americans have enlarged hearts due to damage sustained from heart attacks, with limited options such as a heart transplant..
Patients in the study had adult stem cells taken from their bone marrow, then injected into their damaged heart. The heart patients showed a significant improvement in heart performance within months, and a significant reduction in both scar tissue and heart size within a year after the initial therapy. According to Dr. Hare:
"This therapy improved even old cardiac injuries. Some of the patients had damage to their hearts from heart attacks as long as 11 years before treatment."
The researchers used two different types of bone marrow adult stem cells in their study--mononuclear and mesenchymal stem cells--and while the study could not separate the effects of one type of adult stem cell from the other, all the patients in the study benefitted from the therapy and tolerated the injections with no serious adverse events.