Stem Cell Therapy Could Help Repair Dead Heart Muscle and Reverse Damage

Published By : 27 Dec 2013 | Published By : QYRESEARCH

The medical fraternity has thus far considered the regeneration of dead heart muscle an impossible feat. However, this view could soon change with a new breakthrough in stem cell therapy that holds the potential to regenerate dead muscles of the heart. This therapy from Los Angeles-based biotech company Capricor is currently being tested at Scripps Health in La Jolla. Tests are being carried out to ascertain if the cardiac stem cells can bolster the natural ability of the heart to carry out minor repairs. If the therapy proves successful, it would be possible for functional heart muscle to grow and scars could possibly shrink.

The trial, being called Allstar, sees Capricor getting stem cells from hearts of donors and growing them in-laboratory to attain the amount of cells required for the treatment. The company then dispatches these cells to participating doctors, who go ahead and inject these stem cells into patients’ coronary artery. From here, the cells are expected to migrate towards the patient’s heart and boost the re-growth of muscles. 

Phase 1 of the trial is successfully complete and it mainly comprised safety evaluations. Capricor, on December 17, had announced that it had received permission to start Phase 2 of the trial that will see around 300 patients being examined for efficacy of the stem cell therapy.

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has granted a funding of $19.7 million to the Allstar trial. In fact, according to the CIRM chairman, this is the first time ever that the institute has funded the 2nd phase of a clinical trial. 

Heart diseases claim about 600,000 Americans every year and the CDC attributes heart disease as the leading cause of death in the United States. 

That study made use of ‘autologous cells’ that were obtained from a treated patient. However, it is preferable to use donor cells over the autologous ones as the former can be banked and utilized based on the need. Moreover, these cells are relatively less expensive.

The first phase is being considered a vital proof of concept because it has been successful in dispelling the hitherto held belief that the muscles of the heart cannot be regenerated.
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