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Stem Cell Study Shows Promising Results Against Heart Failure
Date:5/11/2012

By Denise Mann
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 10 (HealthDay News) -- A new treatment that involves spinning bone marrow stem cells to enhance their healing potential may help people with advanced heart failure feel and function better, a small study suggests.

Researchers developed the treatment by culturing a patient's own bone marrow for 12 days. This process helped increase the amount of immune cells and stem cells that can differentiate into several different cell types, including heart cells. Those cells were then injected into heart muscle. The study was funded by treatment manufacturer Aastrom Biosciences.

According to the findings, this treatment was safe, helped repair the damaged heart muscle and reversed some heart failure symptoms, when compared to a placebo injection. The findings were to be presented Thursday at the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions annual meeting, in Las Vegas.

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute reports that about 5.8 million people in the United States have heart failure, a condition that occurs when the heart can no longer pump enough blood to meet the body's needs. Symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue and swelling in the ankles, feet, legs and abdomen. There is no cure; treatment typically includes a cocktail of medications aimed at reducing symptoms and improving quality of life.

"A number of people with heart failure have slowly progressing disease despite medication and/or device therapy. If we could have a therapy for this group that would slow the progression of heart failure, it would be economic and change the disease process tremendously," said study author Dr. Timothy Henry, director of research and an interventional cardiologist at the Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. The treatment would not be used for people who need a heart transplant.

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