Imagine a future where heart attack sufferers no longer have to live with the long-term aftermath of a heart attack – no impact to lifestyle due to damaged heart muscles – no more pills and medicines – no long lines waiting for a heart transplant that may, or may not, come. How could this be? Why, you’d simply receive an injection of stem cells and grow new heart muscles to replace the old, damaged heart.
Sounds like something out of science fiction, doesn’t it? And yet, science fiction generally has it roots in science. Treating heart disease with stems cells may well become a reality in the not so distant future. Research regarding ways to treat heart disease and heart damage through stem cells is currently ongoing in various clinical trials throughout the world (approximately 20 trials are being conducted worldwide with more than 1,000 participants). For example, in Brazil, researchers are conducting studies on treating refractory angina with a stem cell cocktail with great results. (See, Cell Transplants for a Healthier Heart at http://www.empowher.com/angina/content/cell-transplants-healthier-heart for the complete story.) With each success story, more studies are sure to follow.
With any new treatment, the two big questions are
*Is is safe?
*Does it work?
People want to know that the benefits outweigh the risks, if any, before embarking down a previously unexplored medical pathway. No one wants to be the first (or even the second) guinea pig!
One British professor, Michael Schneider (British Heart Foundation Professor, Imperial College London), is looking for a better way to use stem cells to treat cardiomyopathy and heart attack patients. According to Schneider, the results of current clinical trials indicate that stems cells are safe to use but that the results observed are just not producing enough improvement in the patients condition. The culprit in the dismal results, he believes, is in the type of stem cell used.
Schneider indicates that most of the research being conducted uses stem cells gleaned from the bone marrow.