heart-attack1Wonders may not cease where stem cell treatment is concerned. Recently stem cell treatment has been applied on human, as a case of Phase I trial and the doctors are quite optimistic since it has been successful in animals.

Before going any further let us read something about heart attack or in more technical term Myocardial Infarction (MI).

What is Myocardial Infarction?

Myocardial infarction (MI or AMI for acute myocardial infarction), commonly known as a heart attack, occurs when the blood supply to part of the heart is interrupted causing some heart cells to die. This is most commonly due to occlusion (blockage) of a coronary artery following the rupture of a vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque, which is an unstable collection of lipids (like cholesterol) and white blood cells (especially macrophages) in the wall of an artery. The resulting ischemia (restriction in blood supply) and oxygen shortage, if left untreated for a sufficient period of time, can cause damage and/or death (infarction) of heart muscle tissue (myocardium).

The report says:

Doctors in the US have injected autologous cardiac stem cells into patients for the first time, with two people out of a planned 24 having received the treatment following an MI.

“This is the first time we have injected cardiac-specific cells into a human,” investigator Dr Raj R Makkar (Cedars Sinai Heart Institute, Los Angeles, CA) told heartwire. “These cells are destined to be heart-muscle cells, so this is attractive in that sense—we are trying to obtain cardiogenesis.” Preclinical experiments suggest that the cells, known as cardiosphere-derived cells, do develop into cardiac myocytes, he noted.

Makkar said the patients, who have been chosen because they still have significant left ventricular dysfunction despite having had a successful angioplasty for their MI, “are excited to participate, because this offers them the opportunity to improve their heart-muscle function. But no promises can be made—this is early research, and with due diligence we’ll find out if it has any potential.”

henningMakkar explained that the patients undergo cardiac MRI at baseline to map the area and size of the infarct and to see how best to perform the biopsy. The cardiac cells are then obtained via endomyocardial biopsy, through a percutaneous procedure via a vein in the neck or groin, and the cells obtained are grown in the lab over a period of four to six weeks into cardiosphere-derived cells, of which 12 million to 25 million are required for the treatment. The patients are then brought back to the cath lab and the cells are put back into the infarct-related artery.

“The advantage of this approach is that we are putting the cells back into the area that caused the MI,” Makkar explained. He said this study, a phase 1 trial sponsored by the National Institute of Health, is designed primarily to examine safety, but they will also be looking at efficacy, with MRIs performed at baseline and six months later.

“If it is successful, we hope the procedure could be widely available in a few years and could be more broadly applied to cardiac patients,” says Dr Eduardo Marbán (Cedars Sinai Heart Institute), who developed the technique and is leading the clinical trial.

“This procedure signals a new and exciting era in the understanding and treatment of heart disease,” Marbán explains in a Cedars-Sinai statement. “Five years ago, we didn’t even know the heart had its own distinct type of stem cells.  Now we are exploring how to harness such stem cells to help patients heal their own damaged hearts.”

It may be a beginning and since it is the first trial the doctors are not guaranteeing any hope, but it is quite evident that if this comes out successful, it would be saving a millions in US since the same is the deaths related to heart attacks every year.