Adult stem cell treatment could halve the number of people dying from heart failure, a landmark study has shown.
In the largest trial ever carried out, US doctors have proven that damaged hearts can be repaired using stem cells taken from a patient’s own body.
Scientists and doctors have previously praised the potential of adult stem cell research, as an alternative to controversial embryonic research.
Adult stem cells
Embryonic stem cells are hugely controversial because sourcing them involves the destruction of human embryos.
The US trial involved 126 patients who were treated with either adult stem cells, taken from their bone marrow, or a placebo.
Doctors were not told which type of treatment they would be administering.
Patients were then observed for a period of twelve months, with doctors monitoring deaths and hospital or clinic visits.
Over the twelve month period the patients who had received the stem cell treatment were 37 per cent less likely to be admitted to hospital than those who received the placebo.
These results suggest that it really worksDr Amit Patel
The stem cell patients were also half as likely to die. Four patients died over the twelve months, compared to eight of the placebo patients.
The results were praised by Dr Amit Patel, Director of Clinical Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering at the University of Utah.
He said: “For the last 15 years everyone has been talking about cell therapy and what it can do. These results suggest that it really works”.
“This is the first trial of cell therapy showing that it can have a meaningful impact on the lives of patients with heart failure”, he added.
In the UK, around 900,000 people have been diagnosed with heart failure and up to 40 per cent of those who suffer from the condition die within one year.
Adult stem cells are viewed as advantageous over embryonic stem cells because they release chemicals which encourage natural repair.
Chief Executive of the Christian Medical Fellowship, Dr Peter Saunders, has said: “It is a tragedy that British scientists have wasted so much time, money and energy exploring the dead end street of embryonic stem cell research”.