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Stem Cell Research and its Impact on Patients with Heart Disease

1 August 2007


Despite the best efforts of physicians, heart disease continues to be the number one cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States and Europe. l With more than 1 million patients suffering from a myocardial infarction each year and another 5 million Americans with congestive heart failure, 1 the search is on for a new therapy or cure for the masses. Stem cell research has been promising a cure for many diseases, including heart disease, for years. The research has sparked ethical and medical debates across the world and as of yet, no cures have been delivered. Researchers have made huge discoveries, including finding a new type of stem cell which has regenerative potential within the heart, but no cures. With six types of stem cells currently being researched, there is great promise of new therapies for patients with heart disease. Scientists are finding that patients do benefit from stem cell therapies, specifically post MI patients injected with stem cells, if the correct type of stem cell is chosen for the correct situation.2 Currently, small clinical human trials are being conducted with skeletal myoblasts, bone marrow stem cells, and endothelial progenitor cells. Ultimately, intermediate-sized, doubled-blinded studies are needed to gather the necessary information required before these therapies can be made available to the public.

Background: Stem cell research has been a hot topic in the media, but little has been said about its impact on patients, specifically patients with heart disease.

Hypothesis: The author believes that stem cell research is impacting healthcare, and further believes that impact is being made in the non-controversial side of the research, namely from bone marrow stem cells and cord blood rather than from embryonic stem cell research.

Study Design: Literature Review of the past 6 years.

Conclusion: Clinically, there have been multiple small trials, many which claim great successes from stem cell transplantation and many more which show no improvement in patients. Ultimately, the consensus among researchers is that intermediate-sized blinded controlled studies are needed to prove or disprove the current claims.


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