Treating a heart attack with the patients’ own bone marrow stem cells boosts blood flow within the heart and may help reduce long-term complications, a new U.S. study finds.
The study included 31 patients who underwent angioplasty and stent placement after a heart attack. Within one week of the attacks, 16 of the patients received infusions of their own bone marrow cells into the coronary artery in which a blockage had caused the event.
The 16 patients received different amounts of bone marrow stem cells — 5 million, 10 million and 15 million cells. The 15 patients in the control group received standard medication only. All the patients were followed for up to five years.
After three to six months, patients who received higher doses of bone marrow stem cells showed greater improvement in blood flow within the heart than patients who received lower doses and those in the control group, the researchers said.
A 41-site clinical trial, testing the restorative effect that adult bone marrow stem cells have on damaged or injured myocardium in heart attack patients, is being led at Wake Forest Baptist by Sanjay Gandhi, MD.
Phase I of the research study found that stem cells derived from bone marrow (mesenchymal stem cells) were safe for patients and may have the ability to limit scar formation, improve heart function and preserve tissue following a first heart attack.
Phase I was a multicenter study of 53 patients which demonstrated that the treatment was safe in adults, and those patients given this stem cell therapy actually experienced improvement in their overall ejection fraction. The earlier phase of the study showed that these mesenchymal stem cells could target the damaged myocardial tissue and initiate a process for recovery of heart muscle that could hopefully result in improvement of the overall heart.
Wake Forest is currently participating in a Phase II multicenter study investigating the efficacy of a one-time infusion of adult bone marrow stem cells in heart attack patients. Patients who experience a first time heart attack and undergo coronary angioplasty and stenting are eligible. Investigators are studying whether treatment with stem cells results in less heart muscle damage and improved heart function following a heart attack.
Wake Forest Baptist is the only trial site in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.
The team at Children’s Hospital Boston and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute were working with a new type of cell called induced pluripotent stem cells or iPS cells, which closely resemble embryonic stem cells but are made from ordinary skin cells.
In this case, they wanted to study a rare, inherited premature aging disorder called dyskeratosis congenita. The blood marrow disorder resembles the better-known aging disease progeria and causes premature graying, warped fingernails and other symptoms as well as a high risk of cancer.
One of the benefits of stem cells and iPS cells is that researchers can make them from a person with a disease and study that disease in the lab. Harvard’s Dr. George Daley and colleagues were making iPS cells from dyskeratosis congenita patients to do this (…)
The Ospedali Riuniti of Bergamo is the top center for the collection of umbilical cord blood in the Lombardy region, said the hospital, which received an award at the Policlinico di Milano (where the umbilical cord blood bank is located) for the second consecutive year for its commitment and professionalism with which it carries out its work, providing an important source of stem cells.
“Our collection program started in 2004,” explained Bruna Pasini, the head obstetrician, also in charge of the collection of umbilical cord blood for the hospital. “At that time we started to collaborate with the Milano Cord Blood Bank, which allowed us to collect over 1,000 units of blood.”
The remaining blood in the placenta after birth contains stem cells similar to those in the bone marrow. They are considered the new frontier to treat many diseases. “About 40-50% of patients with leukemia and lymphomas, who need bone marrow transplants,” explained Mariangelo Cossolini, the organ and tissue transplant coordinator for the province of Bergamo, “do not find compatible donors in their family or in the international registry of voluntary bone marrow donors. Therefore, umbilical cord blood is very precious because it can replace marrow in stem cell transplants and is able to regenerate bone marrow and the entire immune system.”
An extraordinary operation was performed in Pisa when a 5 year old boy from Tuscany with acute lymphoblastic leukemia underwent a bone marrow transplant last night with stem cells explanted from a patient in Japan where the only donor with virological and histological compatibility was found after a 6-7 month worldwide search. The stem cell infusion was performed at the Pediatric Oncohematology Unit at the University of Pisa Hospital directed by Claudio Favre, one of the seven internationally accredited centers collaborating with the national Italian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (IBMDR).
The infusion procedure, reported the hospital in Pisa, lasted about 7 hours and the child is well. Doctors hope that intensive chemotherapy along with total body irradiation last week and the newly implanted stem cells will repopulate the boy’s bone marrow and allow him to fight the disease.
The hospital underlined that what took place between Italy and Japan was a true marathon of solidarity including, in addition to both hospitals and medical teams in both Pisa and Tenri (Southeast Japan), the Italian Civil Protection Service, which provided the airplane that flew from Osaka to Pisa allowing the stem cells to be transported by the only compatible donor found out of 12 million in the entire world.
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