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Bone marrow infusion shows promise for patients with advanced cardiac failure

Treating patients with advanced heart failure with an infusion of bone marrow stem cells can improve cardiac function, early study results suggest.

Over 12 months, US researches studied 60 patients who were divided into two groups according to whether they had experienced an ischaemic or non-ischaemic cardiac event. Twenty-four patients in each group were given bone marrow infusions, while the remaining six in each group received standard heart failure care. Patients returned for follow-up visits at one, three, six and 12 months.

Picture credit: SPL

Patients in the bone marrow infusion group received a high dose of stem cells delivered via a method known as retrograde coronary sinus infusion. This involves giving the cells backwards through the heart, via the main vein.

Lead researcher Amit Patel, of the University of Utah School of Medicine, said this technique was used because the veins do not have diseases as do the arteries of the heart, and it allows the cells to reach the entire heart at once.

‘At the end of the trial, our tests revealed that all patients receiving the bone marrow infusions had improved heart function, with no adverse side effects, especially those in the non-ischaemic group,’ he said. ‘As a result, we believe that this study provides the basis for a larger clinical trial in advanced heart failure patients.’

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