Cardiac cell therapy is the delivery of stem cells to the heart to help the heart repair tissue that is either wounded by a heart attack or diseased. The most important observation made by researchers has been that a certain type of stem cell, called a mesenchymal stem cellMesenchymal stem cells are rare cells mainly found in the bone marrow or in adipose (fat) tissue that can give rise to a large number of tissue types such as bone, cartilage (the lining of joints), fat tissue and connective tissue (tissue that is in between organs and structures in the body)., grows new blood vessels in the heart. This process is known as angiogenesis. The new blood vessels have been shown to support and improve heart function.
Improved blood flow results in:
These stem cells can be:
There are a number of on-going clinical trials to determine the best cell mixture to use for therapy. Importantly, cells derived from a person’s own body fat have shown strong signs of efficacy.
It is important to note that not all categories of heart disease appear to be responsive to cardiac stem cell therapy. In clinical trials, patients with coronary artery diseaseHeart disease caused by plaque having built up in the arteries. have had the best and most consistent treatment benefit.
Research into the safety and potential effectiveness of cardiac stem cell therapy has been carried out beginning with small animals such as mice, then with large animals such as pigs – which have hearts most similar to humans – and subsequently, with people.
The research has primarily involved autologousFrom one's own body adult cells sourced from:
Mesenchymal cells derived from these tissues have been used in trials as a result of their reported safety, feasibility and efficacy signals. Mesenchymal cells have been used to treat cardiac patients:
The regenerative cells have been delivered for these conditions with various methods including but not limited to:
That said, what is known is that nearly 1,000 patients have been treated in clinical trials with “mesenchymal” cells after heart attacks or with chronic coronary artery disease. The sum of these results have shown strong signs of efficacy and the more recent trials with more advanced cell mixtures and improved isolation methods, such as ADRCsAdipose derived stem and regenerative cells., have shown better results than the first generation of trials.
Can Stem Cells Repair a Damaged Heart?. (n.d.). In Stem Cell Information. Retrieved March 9, 2012, from http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/scireport/chapter9.asp.
Schaper, W. (2011, October 20). Collateral Vessels Reduce Mortality. European Heart Journal, 33(5), 564-566, from http://eurheartj.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/10/20/eurhea