Saturday, May 23, 2009

New stem cell therapy holds hope for heart attack victims

In a few months, two centres in India will join the multi-centric global stem cell research where heart attack victims undergoing stem cell shots in the operation theatre.  These injections, scientists hope, would enrich the heart cells and repair damages caused due to cardiac arrest. 

The cardio-thoracic department of Chennai-based Sri Ramachandra University and Dr Naresh Trehan's centre in New Delhi will start the research after the department of biotechnology gives its nod for a pilot project. The hospitals will tie up with city-based stem cell bank LifeCell and Harvest Technologies which manufactures devices for stem cell harvesting. 

It's a new school of thought. We will not be working on the part of the heart muscle that has died after a heart attack. Instead, we would work on the remaining part of the heart. The cells that are on the border of the damaged area have a greater potential to be regenerated along with the remaining healthy portions," said Mayur Abhaya, executive director, Lifecell International. 

WHO predicts that by 2010, 60% of cardiac patients in the world will be Indians. "This therapy uses adult stem cells found in the bone marrow. Here too, we would be using a new technology where stem cells can be derived at a much faster rate. In fact in just 15 minutes, against the usual 8 hours," says Scott Shea, managing director Harvest Technologies. 

Dr Amit N Patel, director of cardiac stem cell therapies, McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine, says that injection of stem cells improve the function of muscles and blood vessels allowing patients to lead a near-normal life. Senior cardio-thoracic surgeon Dr Naresh Trehan agrees. "When drug therapy fails and a heart is not available for transplant, stem cell becomes a viable option. I have seen a success rate of up to 90% in this therapy. In 20 patients injected with stem cells, we have seen new arteries growing from damaged stem cell areas. A scientific paper on this has been accepted by the International Cardiac Surgery," says Dr Trehan.

Source: The Times of India 21 May 2009

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