Umbilical cord stem cells 'could aid heart failure treatment'

Scientific Developments/Breakthroughs

Scientists have developed a new approach to treating heart failure that makes use of umbilical cord stem cells.

Researchers from the Universidad de los Andes in Chile have assessed an intravenous therapeutic method based on the use of these cells, which are seen as easily accessible, widely available, unlikely to cause immune complications and free of ethical concerns surrounding embryonic stem cells.

“Umbilical cord-derived stem cells could form the basis of an effective new treatment for heart failure, according to a new study.“

For this study, 30 patients aged 18 to 75 with stable heart failure underwent intravenous infusions of stem cells obtained from full-term human placentas given by healthy donors through caesarean section, with informed consent.

Sustained and significant improvement in the hearts' ability to pump blood in the year were observed after treatment, with greater improvements on measures of daily functional status and quality of life than placebo, as well as a lack of adverse effects.

Dr Fernando Figueroa, professor of medicine at the Universidad de los Andes, said: "We are encouraged by our findings because they could pave the way to a noninvasive promising new therapy for a group of patients who face grim odds."

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