A new study in Circulation Research by the American Heart Association shows that umbilical cord stem cells could be used to treat heart disease.
The unique study demonstrated that the stem cells boosted heart muscle function in patients with heart failure.
30 patients aged 18-75 (who all had stable heart failure) were tested on, using either IV-infused umbilical cord stem cells or a placebo for comparison. All stem cells were taken from healthy human placentas during caesarean section. Study correspondent, Fernando Figueroa, commented on the findings.
We are encouraged by our findings because they could pave the way to a non-invasive, promising new therapy for a group of patients who face grim odds
Fernando Figueroa, M.D., Professor of medicine at the Universidad de los Andes in Chile
During the study, umbilical cord stem cells were inserted into heart muscle via IV infusion. Results suggest that patients experienced clear improvements in heart muscle function and quality of life. The test proved sustained and "significant" improvements in the hearts' ability to pump blood - without any negative side effects. It is common during organ transplants and blood transfusions that patients will have immunity complications, but this study showed none of these.
Standard drug-based regimens can be suboptimal in controlling heart failure, and patients often have to progress to more invasive therapies such as mechanical ventricular assist devices and heart transplantation
Jorge Bartolucci M.D., Cardiologist from Cells for Cells and professor at the Universidad de los Andes
Umbilical cord stem cells are also more available, accessible and free of ethical concerns. This makes them an attractive alternative to bone marrow or embryonic stem cells. Heart failure affects around 37 million people worldwide and 50% of patients will die within five years of diagnosis. This new study throws light on a exciting possibility for effective treatment.