Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Take heart! ESCs are a dud, but ASCs continue to kick goals.

Right on cue, a day after Geron gives up tinkering with embryos, another report from the US of adult stem cell therapy for humans with heart failure.

Read about it or listen to it HERE at the ABC World Today.

I don't want to dampen the excitement, but of course we have had adult stem cell treatment for humans with heart failure for a decade or so - for example, an article in the Journal of the Americal College of Cardiology HERE. Nevertheless, this latest pair of studies is particularly good.

A conference in Florida has heard that two separate trials of stem cell therapy in humans have been surprisingly successful in replacing damaged muscle and getting the heart to pump better. The Heart Foundation says it could completely revolutionise the way heart failure is treated...

The first study used stem cells from the marrow:

We saw some of the hearts pumping better and patients able to walk further, but the most impressive result of this trial really are the clinical events, or what we call MACE - which stands for major adverse cardiac event - and what we saw was that there was a significant decrease in these adverse clinical events including death, requirement for revascularization procedures and heart attacks in these patients.

The second study used a patient's own heart stem cells (multiplied up and reinjected to the damaged area of heart muscle):

In the study these cells boosted the heart function by about 15 to 20 per cent and they also were also able to reduce the area of heart muscle damage by about 25 per cent. So these are findings never seen before.

I trust the significance of these two news events is not lost on our science reporters! Truly ESCs and cloning are dying a lingering and unlamented death, while ASCs for therapy are the most exciting thing in medicine today.