The study, which was the largest such investigation to date, found that the hearts of the patients receiving bone-marrow derived stem cells showed a small but significant increase in the ability to pump oxygenated blood from the left ventricle, the heart's main pumping chamber, to the body.
"This is exactly the kind of information we need to move forward with the clinical use of stem cell therapy," said Emerson Perin, MD, PhD, Director of Clinical Research for Cardiovascular Medicine at THI, and one of the study's lead investigators.
Researchers found that left ventricular ejection fraction increased by a small but significant amount (2.7%) in patients who received stem cell therapy. The study also revealed that the improvement in ejection fraction correlated with the number of certain stem cells known as CD34+ and CD133+ in the bone marrow.
Patients' bone marrow cells underwent further study, which determined that younger patients had a higher content of CD34+ and CD133+ cells in their bone marrow and had higher ejection fractions after stem cell treatment. This kind of analysis will help identify which patients are most likely to benefit from cell therapy.
According to Dennis Lox, MD, a sports, physical and regenerative medicine specialist in the Tampa Bay area, stem cells appear to hold great promise in treating a variety of diseases and conditions. Some conditions, such as joint, tendon and muscle injury, are treatable now with stem cells. Other conditions, such as ALS, diabetes and MS, appear to be treatable, but widespread treatment is still in the near-future.
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Dennis M. Lox, M.D. is board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Since 1990, he has used sports medicine techiques and cutting-edge technology to help heal musculoskeletal injuries and relieve pain.