Adult Stem Cell Therapy Blog

Stem Cells for Heart Disease Featured in Newsweek

Thursday, September 29, 2005 - Stem Cell Guru

The most recent issue of Newsweek featured a cover story on stem cell therapy for heart disease.

The article does a good job summarizing the field.

Cardiologists who have performed the procedure in Europe, South America and Japan using adult human stem cells have reported Lazarus-like improvements in their patients, some of whom have even returned from near-permanent hospitalization to their previous, normal lives. In the last year the therapy has caught on in the United States, too, with similar early results. The Food and Drug Administration, at first wary, has started approving more trials (mostly using stem cells from patients' own bodies rather than controversial embryonic stem cells). In the next few years several hundred American patients who have run out of conventional options will enroll, their hopes renewed.

The author tries to make the issue controversial by saying the fact that there is not a consensus on why the therapy works.

The therapy's biggest boosters now argue that ultimately, it doesn't matter—the cells don't have to become muscle to give the heart another chance. They may reinvigorate old cells, act as beacons for growth factors or serve as midwives to the birth of new blood vessels. "They're probably doing a thousand different things," says Johns Hopkins cardiologist Joshua Hare, one of the field's pioneers.

The article does make one puzzling statement:

All these strategies, of course, rely on using stem cells from the patients themselves. There's a flaw with that approach, though: older patients' stem cells are not as robust and active as younger patients', but it's often the older patients who need the treatment the most.

The author does not cite who thinks this or why. It is certainly not something I have heard of!


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