Heart failure could be treated using umbilical cord stem cells
Using stem cells derived from the umbilical cord, researchers have improved the heart muscle and function of heart failure patients, paving the way for noninvasive therapies.
small heart held in hands
Scientists offer new hope for heart failure patients.
The lead author of the study is Dr. Jorge Bartolucci, a professor at the Universidad de los Andes (UANDES) in Santiago, Chile, and Dr. Fernando Figueroa, a professor of medicine at UANDES, is the corresponding author.
Dr. Bartolucci and colleagues conducted a trial in which they compared patients who were given an intravenous injection with stem cells from umbilical cords with patients who received a placebo.
The results – which have been published in the journal Circulation Research – were deemed “encouraging” by Dr. Figueroa. He says that the findings could improve survival rates for heart failure patients, which are currently quite disappointing.
Half of all heart failure patients are expected to die within the first 5 years after the diagnosis, and the 10-year survival rate is less than 30 percent. Worldwide, 26 million people are believed to live with the condition.
In heart failure, the heart’s muscles weaken and can no longer pump blood adequately throughout the body. Worryingly, the threat of heart failure is increasing among people in the United States; the number of people affected is currently set at 6.5 million, and this is expected to rise by 46 percent by the year 2030.
The authors of the new study note that previous research has already looked into the potential of stem cells derived from bone marrow for treating heart failure, but they say that umbilical cord-derived stem cells have never been examined.
These are a more desirable avenue for treatment, the authors add, as they are more accessible, do not pose any of the ethical concerns that embryonic stem cells do, and are not likely to elicit a negative immune response.