Heart attack patients may get second life with stem Cells
According to a 2008 National Nutrition and Health Survey, complications due to hypertension, including heart attack, are the leading cause of death among Filipinos. What is more alarming is that one out of four Filipino adults has hypertension.
But there’s good news to those who have heart disease. Britain, in conjunction with a number of hospitals around Europe, has just started the biggest trial on a possible treatment for heart attack: stem cells.
The trial is called BAMI (bone acute myocardial infarction) and has had funding from the European Commission. The goal of the trial is to see if stem cells can repair damaged tissues among heart attack patients and if it can reduce death rates due to heart attack by 25%.
People who survive a heart attack are left weaker and become dependent on medication. This is because after an attack there are areas in the heart that die due to lack of blood. These areas are called scar tissues.
Trials made in 2011 revealed that those who have undergone stem cell treatment after suffering heart attack showed ‘modest improvement’ than those who have only taken standard treatment. Another study published in 2013 said that heart attack patients who have had stem cell infusion reported a 50% shrinking in scar tissues.
The latest trial involves 11 European countries and 3,000 patients. During the procedure, doctors will take bone marrow stem cells from the patient (like-for-like placement) and inject them into the heart.
Doctors expect that the bone marrow stem cells will transform into specialised heart cells. But though stem cell trials in the past have been successful, doctors are still unsure how stem cells repair the damaged tissues of the heart.
University College London professor of cardiovascular medicine John Martin clarified ‘This trial does not have the backing of the pharmaceutical industry as there is no money in it for them. You can’t patent a patient’s own cells.’
The trial is being conducted at the University College Hospital in central London and King’s College Hospital in south London. Other centres participating in the BAMI trial are in Frankfurt, Hannover, Rome, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Milan, Oslo, Rostock, Katowice and Leuven.