A new study on stem cell therapy is showing some potential for patients with heart ailments and stroke. Findings from the study indicate that stem cell therapy has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in severe heart failure patients by 58 per cent.
The study titled, ‘Randomized trial of targeted transendocardial mesenchymal precursor cell therapy in patients with heart failure,’ is said to be the largest cell therapy trial to date.
The study conducted by a team of 18 researchers is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in May 2023.
Stem cell therapy, also known as regenerative medicine helps to promote the repair response of diseased, dysfunctional, or injured tissue using stem cells. Stem cell therapy has become a promising innovation in regenerative medicine. It involves the use of cells instead of donor organs, which are short in supply.
Scientists believe that stem cells play an important role in the regeneration of some tissues. In Nigeria, there is a dearth of data on heart failure, most reports are based on hospital-based data.
“However, a report by Familoni et al, showed that advanced heart failure accounted for about half of all hospitalised heart failure patients, with a total mortality of three out of five of the patients in the study done at Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, Sagamu,” a medical practitioner and health advocate in the Cardiology Unit, Department of Medicine, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Dr Oladimeji Adebayo said.
Advanced heart failure is a condition that has advanced to the point where conventional treatments and symptom management are ineffective. It is also called end-stage heart failure, Adebayo explained.
More than six million Americans have heart failure, a progressive disease that leads to a weakening of the heart muscle and a loss of its pumping function. Despite advances in therapies for this deadly disease, mortality rates remain high.
According to a professor of Clinical Neurology and Internal Medicine at the College of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Ikenna Onwuekwe, stroke is an acute neurological condition where a part of the brain, spinal cord, or retina dies off following a sudden loss of blood supply to that part of the body.
“This loss of blood can be the result of either rupture of the blood vessel (haemorrhage/bleeding) or blockage of the blood vessel (ischaemia).
“About 200,000 Nigerians are estimated to suffer a stroke every year. Worldwide, one in four adults over the age of 25 years will suffer a stroke,” he said.
Stroke can occur at any age and in both gender but it is more common with increasing age, especially over 50 years. This risk is higher in males generally (though in much older people more than 70 years women predominate as sufferers) and when there is the presence of certain predisposing factors.
The researchers in the clinical trial revealed that a special immunomodulatory cell type called mesenchymal precursor cells has the potential to address a major contributor to heart failure – inflammation.
Experts, however, said the outcome needs to be tried in several studies before it can apply in regular clinical practice.