Cardiologists hope new treatment can prolong the lives of patients with dilated cardiomyopathy (NYSE:DCM). Doctors are investigating whether patients with an irreversible heart condition can prolong their lives by having stem cells taken from their hip and injected into the damaged organ.
Experts at the Barts and the London Heart Attack Centre hope their work will lead to a major breakthrough for the UK's estimated 30,000 sufferers with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).
- The rare condition causes the heart muscle wall to become thin and floppy, making the heart progressively less able to pump blood around the body,
- Drug treatment can be of limited benefit,
- Ultimately patients deteriorate to the extent that they will die unless they receive a new heart.
Researchers led by cardiologist Professor Anthony Mathur are about to start the world's first randomized control trial exploring whether stem cell therapy can repair the patient's heart. "We are using stem cell therapies and regenerative medicine to try to improve the heart's function and maybe prolong their lives," Mathur said. "These patients have such a poor prognosis, so it's very important for them to be exposed to a potential new therapy that might change the outcome of their condition."
- He is recruiting 90 volunteers: 1/2 will have stem cells taken from the bone marrow of their hip and injected into their heart,
- The other 1/2 will have their stem cells frozen and be given placebo injections, but will undergo the therapy if the trial is successful.
But Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said patients should not expect dramatic results soon. "At the moment, this is being done more in hope than expectation, because globally the fundamental science behind stem cells is not sufficiently mature for us to be confident of success."