Using Stem Cells for Angina
When severe angina sufferers are unable to find an effective course of treatment, everyday life becomes compromised as many struggle with fatigue, the ability to walk and other simple tasks. The use of stem cells may make life easier for angina sufferers.
"These are patients who have been on drugs and may have had multiple angioplasties or CABG surgeries," Tomaselli said. "Their activities are severely restricted by their chest pain and right now we have little to offer them."
The findings of the experiment could be just what patients need to regain a normal life. Patients were monitored, and after six months, the patients who received the stem cells reported far fewer angina attacks when compared to the group that received the placebo. Even 12 months later, the low-dose stem cell group continued to report a decrease in angina attacks when compared to the placebo group. Exercise tolerance increased for both stem cell groups by as much as 139 seconds. Additionally, the angina patients who received the stem cells used less nitroglycerin to treat angina after the experiment.
Although these benefits may appear minor, study researcher Douglas W. Losordo, MD, of Chicago's Northwestern University said, "To put it in human terms, patients who might have been able to sit and watch TV without symptoms could now walk at a normal pace without chest pain, and someone who could walk at a slow pace might be able to ride a bike." Losordo went on to say, "The results are pretty undeniable. The [stem cell] treated patients had improvements in angina frequency and improvements in exertion times. The next step is to prove the treatment is clinically useful."
Losordo is hopeful about the experiment's findings, stating, "While we need to validate these results in phase 3 studies before definitive conclusions can be drawn, we believe this is an important milestone in considering whether the body's own stem cells may one day be used to treat chronic cardiovascular conditions"
If further testing proves the use of stem cells to be safe and successful for treating angina, it could offer new hope for patients who previously tried other treatment methods that failed. This study is said to prove that the stem cells are both a safe and feasible treatment option for patients with significant coronary artery disease.
"There is an emerging notion that our bodies -- even the bodies of patients with significant disease -- contain this natural biology that can heal. We are just beginning to understand and exploit this pre-installed mechanism for self-repair," says Tomaselli.