Stem Cell Implantation Boon for Heart Failure Patients

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  • Heart failure affects over 40 million people worldwide.
  • In spite of the numerous available management measures, many patients progress to end-stage heart failure.
  • The five-year mortality rate of patients with severe heart failure is 50%.
  • Research has been in progress to evaluate the use of stem cells in heart failure patients.
  • In a small phase IIa safety study, researchers evaluated the potential of stem cells in patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy.
Heart failure is a frequent consequence of heart attack. It is a condition where the heart muscle is weak and damaged, and cannot pump sufficient blood to the body. About 1/3rd of the cardiovascular deaths are due to heart failure. In spite of medical management, Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy (CRT)and mechanical circulatory support, many patients still progress to end-stage heart failure.
Stem Cell Implantation Boon for Heart Failure Patients
Stem Cell Implantation Boon for Heart Failure Patients

Stem cells appear to be a boon to patients with heart failure. Stem cells are immature cells which can differentiate into more specific cells. When injected into the heart muscle, they help the heart muscle to regenerate and regain its pumping capacity. They also have an anti-inflammatory effect and reduce scarring of the heart muscle.

Many studies were conducted on animals and humans to find the benefit of stem cells in heart failure patients. A recently conducted Phase IIa study of stem cell implantation in patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy yielded a promising result. Ischemic cardiomyopathy refers to a condition like heart attack where the heart muscle is damaged due to reduced blood supply.

The study included 11 patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy. The pumping action of the heart was less with a Left Ventricular Ejection Fraction (LVEF) <40%. The damaged part of the heart which could not be revived by other procedures was identified before the surgery using scintigraphy imaging (SPECT). Novel mesenchymal precursor cells (iMP) were implanted in these regions with precision methods during coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery, a surgery carried out to restore blood supply to the damaged heart. SPECT was done to measure the left ventricular scar tissue after the iMP implantation.

The results of the Phase IIa study on stem cell implantation in patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy showed the following benefits.

I. Safety

The iMP implantation along with CABG was safe.

II. Myocardial Scar and Function

There was an improvement in the contractility of the heart muscle, blood flow to non-vascularized areas and a significant reduction in the left ventricular scar area 12 months after iMP implantation.

III. Quality of Life

There is a significant improvement in the quality of life in these patients 6 months after implantation.

The results prove the benefit of the iMP cells in ischemic heart failure by regenerating the myocardium. But since the study was conducted in very few subjects, further research involving many subjects will provide more reliable results.

References :
  1. Anastasiadis, K., et al., Implantation of a Novel Allogeneic Mesenchymal Precursor Cell Type in Patients with Ischemic Cardiomyopathy Undergoing Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting: an Open Label Phase IIa Trial. Journal of Cardiovascular Translational Research, 2016. 9(3): p. 202-213.
  2. Vrtovec, B., Poglajen, G., & Haddad, F. (2013). Stem Cell Therapy in Patients with Heart Failure. Methodist DeBakey Cardiovascular Journal, 9(1), 6-10.
Source: Medindia

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