Like all technology in today’s world, stem cell research and the utilization of stem cells are growing and evolving exponentially.
As of now, stem cell therapy is generally used to treat injuries, repairing bones, cartilage, and muscles tissues. Their application to organs has yet to be meticulously explored, until now.
In a substantial breakthrough in regenerative medicine, scientists may have discovered a way for stem cells to repair damage to the human heart. If the stem cell treatment proves to be a safe, efficient method to fix the heart, the number of people dying from heart failure can be cut in half.
Researchers have always held hope that stem cell therapies would be the future of organ repair, due to their inimitable ability to differentiate into any type of cell in the body. What would’ve been irreversible damage to organs in the past, has the potential to be restored in the near future.
Stem Cell Trials to Repair Damaged Hearts
The researchers believe the stem cell therapies are effective in heart restoration because it slows down, and even reverses, the disease’s progression. Traditional stem cell therapy involves stem cells differentiating and multiplying in the targeted area to facilitate repairs. In the case of organ restoration, the stem cells are improving the functionality of the muscle cells already there, rather than increasing in numbers.
These trials are considered ‘phase 2’ studies early stem cell technology would take all the bone marrow cells and inject them, meaning their effects may have been mitigated. In this phase 2 trial, only certain types of stem cells were collected, along with some immune cells, which provided vastly improved results. The researchers are hoping to advance to a phase 3 clinical trial, where they’d take a much larger study sample of endstage patients.
Scientists are quietly optimistic of these findings, and feel bone marrow stem cell therapy can be a safe alternative to heart transplants. There is still a lot of work to be done, however. The stem cell treatments did not address the performance of the heart’s functions, which were found to be more or less the same preinjection after conducting exercise tolerance tests with the study
Nevertheless, the clinical trials are a major step forward in the healthcare sphere, and in stem cell therapy technology.
“For the last 15 years everyone has been talking about cell therapy and what it can do. These results suggest that it really works,” Patel said in a university press release.