Hip Stem Cells Repair Failing Hearts

Heart failure treatment with stem cells from hip bone marrow improves heart health

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Stem cells have the potential to become any type of cell in the body. For those with heart failure, stem cells may offer a new means for fixing damaged tissue.

Most stem cells are found within our bone marrow, the flexible tissue found in the hollow interior of bones.

Marrow can be extracted from a patient’s hip bone to produce bone marrow concentrate (BMC), a therapy that is rich in regenerative stem cells.

A new study has found that stem cells can improve heart health for people suffering from heart failure.

"Research stem cell therapy for heart failure."

Andre Terzic, MD, director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Regenerative Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota, led the research.

In the clinical trial, 45 heart failure patients, who were from Belgium, Switzerland and Serbia, received “smart” stem cells. These stem cells, taken from bone marrow in the top of the patient’s hip, were treated with proteins that would make them replicate natural cues of heart development.

Doctors have labeled the cells as “smart” stem cells; they are cardiopoietic (or capable of producing cardiac muscle tissue).

All of these patients experienced more improvements in heart health than another group of patients who were given the standard treatments for heart failure. These patients had stronger heart pumping function within six months following cardiopoietic stem cell treatment.

In addition, patients benefited from improved fitness and were able to walk longer distances than before stem cell therapy.

"The benefit to patients who received cardiopoietic stem cell therapy was significant," said Dr. Terzic. “The cells underwent an innovative treatment to optimize their repair capacity. This study helps us move beyond the science fiction notion of stem cell research, providing clinical evidence for a new approach in cardiovascular regenerative medicine.”

This is the first published study in which smart stem cells were tested on humans, according to Dr. Terzic.

Six months after treatment, the cell therapy group had a 7 percent absolute improvement in EF (ejection fraction) over baseline, versus a non-significant change in the control group, according to Charles Murry, MD, and colleagues at the University of Washington, Seattle. EF is the percentage of blood that is pumped out of a filled ventricle as a result of a heartbeat.

“This improvement in EF is dramatic, particularly given the duration between the ischemic injury and cell therapy,” wrote Dr. Murry in an editorial that accompanied the study. “It compares favorably with our most potent therapies in heart failure."

Dr. Terzic and fellow researchers have worked for over a decade to discover stem cells that could inherently promote heart regeneration and develop the proteins procedure necessary to help the stem cells become reparative.

After the smart stem cell therapy is tested on a larger group of 200 or more patients, researchers will ask for federal approval of the treatment, according to Dr. Terzic.

The study was published in April in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Dr. Terzic and the Mayo Clinic have a financial interest related to technology in the research program. Mayo has rights to future royalties from Cardio3 BioSciences, a Belgium-based biotechnology company working on regenerative therapies for cardiovascular diseases.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 11, 2013
Last Updated:
January 23, 2014