The Houston Chronicle is reporting researchers at the Texas Heart Institute have presented findings of a study concerning the use of adult stem cells to improve the ability of a heart to pump oxygen rich blood at a cardiology conference.
What did the study find?
The study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and presented at the American College of Cardiology conference involved 92 patients whose hearts were beating at 45 percent of capacity. The patients could not be treated by surgery. Some of the patients were injected with stem cells created from their own bone marrow and some with a placebo.
As a result, the patients injected with stem cells got a 3.1 percent improvement in the ability of their hearts to pump blood. Those who received the placebo lost 1.6 percent. The study also determined that patients 63 and older got less benefit than younger patients.
The study found no improvement in heart damage or the heart's blood flow and oxygen use.
Patients will be observed for the next five years.
What are adult stem cells?
Adult stem cells are tissue that can transform itself into specialized tissue in the human body such as blood, heart tissue, bone, and other tissue, according to the National Institutes of Health. Researchers are extracting adult stem cells from bone marrow, fat or other sources and are experimenting with using them to repair damaged tissue in human patients or even growing organs that can then be transplanted. Using adult stem cells is considered more ethical than embryonic stem cells as it does not involve the destruction of a fertilized embryo.
What is the Texas Heart Institute?
The Texas Heart Institute was created as a nonprofit by Dr. Denton Cooley, the famous heart surgeon, with a mission to reduce the effects of cardiovascular disease through research and patient treatment. The Texas Heart Institute is financed through government grants, research contracts, and donations from individuals and organizations.
The institute is located in the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas and is affiliated with both St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital and Texas Children's Hospital.
Besides the adult stem cell research, the Texas Heart Institute has worked on mechanical assistance devices, has delved into the underlining causes of heart disease and nonsurgical treatments that head off serious ailments before they occur, and technology to more accurately image the human heart.
Texas resident Mark Whittington writes about state issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network.