A new study has shown that muscle damage due to heart attack can be corrected by stem cell treatment. A successful treatment strategy to reverse the heart muscle damage has been the focus of many studies since centuries. The present study on a small number of participants has shown that the root of the problem can itself be corrected rather than just working around the damage. The study was directed by Eduardo Marban, the director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles. Marban discovered the cardiosphere technique to culture the stem cells for treatment.
This study is the first clinical trial showing that heart damage can be reversed. Some of the earlier studies were successful in regenerating heart cells using different stem cells or bone marrow stem cells. The new study has shown that stem cells have the capability to stimulate the heart cells to repair themselves when damaged. This is contrary to the general belief that stem cells multiply over and over again finally turning into a new working heart muscle cells. The report shows that the repair is done by the cells in the heart themselves and not from the new cells provided.
Phase I clinical trial using the stem cells for healing the heart muscle scars was done on 25 participants who just had a heart attack. Each of the participants had lost around 25% of the heart muscle due to the attack and had massive scars that were evident in the MRI scans. Out of the 25 participants, eight of them received standard treatment, while the rest 17 got infusions of stem cells. The stem cells were taken from the patient’s heart using biopsy and cultured in the laboratory. After almost 12 weeks of culture, the cells were returned to the patient through biopsy.
The report shows that mass of scar tissue reduced by 42% after a year of treatment. A 60% growth was noticed in the healthy heart muscle. Patients who got the standard care did not show any significant regeneration. As against the conventional belief, researchers suggest that cardiac damage due to conditions like a heart attack is not permanent and once damaged can be reversed.