February 28, 2006

Stem cells fail to help heart attack damage: study

CHICAGO (Reuters) - An experimental therapy using the
body's bone marrow stem cells to repair damage done to cardiac
tissue and blood vessels in a heart attack does not appear to
work, German researchers reported on Tuesday.

The study from Technische Universitat in Munich involved a
growth protein called granulocyte colony-stimulating factor,
which brings the body's bone marrow stem cells into play.

The authors said there is increasing evidence that stem
cells can contribute to regeneration of cardiac tissue and the
development of new blood vessels following a heart attack.

But a study involving 114 heart attack victims found that
the stem cell stimulating substance had "no influence" on the
size of the area of damage to the heart, how well the heart
pumped or on keeping blood vessels from narrowing again.

The patients in the study were given either the substance
or an inert placebo for five days following a heart attack.

The study was published in this week's Journal of the
American Medical Association along with an editorial from
Robert Kloner, a physician at the University of Southern
California in Los Angeles, who said the therapy in question
remains experimental and has "yet to be proven in large,
long-term multicenter trials ... ."

While some may be disappointed with the German study, he
said, "this investigation is one of the first, controlled,
larger, and more carefully designed studies to assess the
effect of an attempt to recruit stem cells" for heart attack

"Additional large, carefully designed trials are needed to
assess the true potential (or possibly lack of potential) of
stem cell therapy," he added.