Study: Patient’s Adult Stem Cells Could Repair Failing Hearts

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 2, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Study: Patient’s Adult Stem Cells Could Repair Failing Hearts Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 2, 2005

Valhalla, NY ( — A new study shows that active cardiac adult stem cells are present in the heart even in advanced stages of failure. Dr. Piero Anversa told Reuters Health that the findings should lead to strategies for repairing failing hearts.

“Even in end-stage failure you still have a reserve that is good, and could still be utilized," Anversa told Reuters.

Anversa, who is based at New York Medical College in Valhalla, said cardiac stem cells could be removed from the heart, multiplied in test tubes and returned. Or it might be possible to increase their growth without removing them.

“Most likely both strategies could somehow improve the performance of the failing heart," Anversa told Reuters.

Anversa’s research team measured cardiac stem cell growth and aging in hearts taken from 20 patients who had died after a heart attack, 20 patients who underwent heart transplantation for heart failure, and 12 healthy control hearts.

In a report published in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the research team reports that the number of dividing cardiac stem cells rose after an acute heart attack.

In fact, the activity of cardiac stem cells was 29 times greater after an acute heart attack compared to the control group, and 14 fold greater in chronically failing hearts.

The research team also found that the cells had caused intense regeneration around areas of dead tissue stemming from a heart attack.

Anversa’s researchers also found that the cardiac stem cells aged quickly and died after a heart attack.

“The loss of functionally competent cardiac stem cells" in hearts suffering chronic losses of blood supply “may underlie the progressive functional deterioration and the onset of terminal failure," the researchers said.