TUESDAY, Nov. 6 (HealthDay News) -- A small study suggests that stem cells can help repair the damage of a heart attack, and it doesn't matter if the cells originate with the patient or a stranger.
The study, which involved just 30 patients, is the first involving a certain type of cells, called mesenchymal stem cells, that compares outcomes depending on whether the cells came from the patient or a donor.
Across most measures -- including reductions in cardiac scar tissue, patient quality of life and safety -- people got the same benefit regardless of where the stem cells came from, researchers reported Monday at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Los Angeles. The study is also being published online Nov. 6 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
"We believe the basic message of the study is that this procedure is safe and that future, larger studies are warranted," lead study author Dr. Joshua Hare, director of the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said at a news briefing.
Millions of people around the world suffer from heart failure, often caused by a heart attack that severely damaged heart muscle at some point in the past. This can cause hearts to become enlarged and weakened, a condition called ischemic cardiomyopathy.
Unfortunately, progress against heart failure has been stalled for decades. But recently, scientists have been introducing stem cells, which can turn into cardiac cells, into the hearts of these patients, to see if they might repair the damage.
In most cases, the cells have been sourced from the patients themselves, but that presents its own problems. Speaking at the news briefing, Stefanie Dimmeler, head of the section of molecular cardiology at the University of Frankfurt, Germany, explained that it takes up to two months to grow the millions
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