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Millions Could be Saved by British Stem Cell Trials for Heart Failure


Millions of people could be saved as well as millions of pounds, following a new stem cell treatment curing heart failure.

New trials taking place in Britain could save people’s lives when suffering from heart failure. Last week, researchers revealed a breakthrough treatment which removes the need for operations.

This is done by revitalising tissue damage by using cells that have been taken from a patient’s own blood.

Heart failure affects a third who have suffered a major heart attack.

There are thought to be one million heart attack survivors in the UK but many have been left living with heart failure which causes breathlessness, repeated hospitalisation and high risk of subsequent arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.

Although around 70,000 people a year die from heart failure, but this new treatment could save lives.

The new stem cell treatment means that following someone having a heart attack, the treatment can actually take place at their home. The stem cells work so quickly that the organ can be as good as new within just a matter of months.

There are just a fifth of people who survive major cardiac arrests, although they are left with a badly injured heart. These people are expected to benefit hugely from this experimental stem cell treatment.

Experts predict, and initial findings indicate that following this treatment heart failure patients could go on to lead normal lives.

Dr John Hung, a cardiology specialist working on the trials in Edinburgh, said that the treatment can be performed on anyone, therefore it has the potential to help a vast number of people suffering, while also reducing the NHS bill for future care of heart failure patients.

He added: “We think about one in five people who survive a major heart attack are likely to benefit from the therapy, and this could mean hundreds of thousands in the UK or many millions across the world.”

“There should also be healthcare savings from the reduced costs for medication, ongoing treatment and recurrent hospitalisations.”

A patient has discussed how grateful he was for the stem cell treatment, after been given a 50-50 chance of surviving five years following a major heart attack, because of the resulting extensive damage it had caused.

Professor David Newby

The trial is being led by Professor David Newby (Credit: Collect)

Professor David Newby, of the British Heart Foundation Centre of Research Excellence at The University of Edinburgh, is leading the trial.

He told the Daily Express:

“This is a potentially life-changing therapy for a significant number of patients with heart failure after a heart attack.”

“In some ways stem cell therapy has been a little like throwing bricks at a bridge which has collapsed in the middle. In order for them to stay in place, you need a scaffold and the right bricks, and the hope is we have both.”

While it was pointed out by Professor Newby, that some recovery would occur naturally, Professor Philippe Henon, the French haematologist, one of the researchers that developed the stem cell therapy, explained that over 85% of patients who took part in the pilot presented “significant” improvement to their health following the stem cell treatment.

When a heart attack begins the blocked arteries prevent the blood flow resulting in tissue and muscle death. While the body does attempt to repair itself by releasing stem cells there often aren’t enough to completely heal the damage.

This advancement in treatment boosts the bodies healing process by injecting large amounts of stem cells that repair the heart with as well as the small blood vessels flowing into it.

It’s unknown exactly how much the stem cell treatment will cost, but at these early staged it has been estimated to be less than being treated in hospital for heart failure currents, which currently costs around £3,000 for the admission alone.

The operation which costs the NHS £10,000 each time is a bypass operation which is commonly used on patients with heart failure

Currently, heart failure accounts for a million inpatient bed days a year – which is two per cent of the NHS total inpatient beds.

As well as this, heart failure is responsible for five per cent of all emergency hospital admissions and it is expected to rise to 50 per cent over the next 30 years as a result of the ageing population.

Man Holding His Heart

Heart failure is responsible for five per cent of all emergency hospital admissions

Heart transplant for some patients can be the best option for surviving, however as a result of the growing transplant list and a shortage of donors, means 15% of non-urgent people die within three years of being on the transplant list.

Dr Hung said: “Attempts to regenerate the heart in this way have never been done before. This is not cloning, genetic manipulation or using human embryonic stem cells.”

“The beauty of this procedure is that it uses the patient’s own blood so there is no issue with rejection. We are delivering the stem cell right into the area that has been damaged.”

“The real value here is the impact on the people we treat because this procedure will prevent the need to continuously go into hospital and significantly increase quality of life.”

“If the next round of trials are successful we could be looking at the treatment being widely used in as little as five to 10 years.”

This new stem cell therapy was designed by French biotech company CellProthera, the procedure is done within weeks of emergency stent procedure which is standard practice after a major heart attack.

The outlook is currently optimistic as the pilot study as many have seen significant improvements in cardiac function and now have near-normal heart function.

Before treatment, people within the pilot study had such severe heart failure they were being considered for a heart transplant.

People who did not respond to the stem cell treatment had suffered a heart attack eight years before undergoing the therapy.

Professor Henon, chief scientific officer at CellProthera, said the harvest of stem cells] should be carried out between one and six months after a heart attack.

“If it is done too early the damaged tissue is too soft to accept the cells, and if it is too late, the tissue becomes too hard and calcified.

“A quarter of people who survive a major heart attack are left with heart failure as a result of damage to cardiac tissue. Regenerative medicine has enormous potential to save lives and improve the quality of life of these patients.”

The trial will assess 44 people who have suffered heart failure after major heart attacks.

The results are published in the journal Cytotherapy.

Baby Teeth Contain Stem Cells

We believe the best stem cells to use in emerging treatments will be the patient’s own stem cells as this doesn’t require a search for a suitable donor and in turn, eliminates chances of the transplanted cells being rejected.

If you want more information on how you can protect your child’s future health by banking their tooth cells, get in touch with our friendly team today or order your free information pack.