Patients with damaged ventricular function following a myocardial infarction (medical term for heart attack) may be able to not only limit damage but also to regenerate heart function with an infusion of their own bone marrow-derived stem cells cells, according to research at J.W. Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany.

In the randomized placebo-controlled trial (95 patients to the bone marrow cell treatment and 92 to placebo), patients who received an infusion of the recycled stem cells improved their global left ventricular function by 5.5%, versus a 3% improvement in patients who received placebo infusions (P=0.014).

Moreover, patients who received the stem cell infusions five or more days after myocardial infarction had a 7% improvement in left-ventricular ejection function compared with a 1.9% improvement in placebo patients who were infused with acellular serum at least five days after heart attack (P=0.004), Dr. Zeiber reported at the American Heart Association’s meeting here today.

Dr. Zeiher said the stem cell infusion is the first therapy “that has the potential to not only limit damage, but also regenerate heart function.”

As might be expected, patients with the most significant ischemic damage following myocardial infarction benefited most from the stem cell therapy, said co-author Volker Sch├Ąchinger, M.D., of the Frankfurt group.

At four months clinical follow-up “all major hazard ratios - myocardial infarction, revascularization, and rehospitalization - favored the bone-marrow group,” he said. 41 patients in the bone marrow arm had LVEF below 49% compared with 52 patients in the placebo arm (P=0.002).

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This is in line with similar results obtained elsewhere. Please check the links below for information on similar studies worldwide. Also check the Heart category.