Cells from newborns’ umbilical cords could provide a lifesaving treatment for heart failure patients, a study has found.
The report from the American Heart Association revealed that the cells improved these patients’ heart function when injected into their veins.
And the non-invasive, experimental treatment proved safe, as no adverse side effects appeared as a result of the injections.
Experts are hopeful that the study could improve the lives of the 37 million people worldwide who live with heart failure, as the current standard treatments are invasive procedures and harsh medications that are hard on patients’ bodies.
A new study from the American Heart Association has found that cells from umbilical cords could treat patients with heart failure (file photo)
WHICH MEDICATIONS CURRENTLY TREAT HEART FAILURE?
Heart failure is a chronic disease, and patients who live with it require treatments all their lives.
While these treatments can lessen their symptoms, the intense medicine routines and invasive procedures they require are high-impact.
A variety of medications have been found to prolong the lives of heart failure patients.
The following are some of the drugs prescribed to them:
- Diuretics, which decrease the amount of fluid in one’s lungs to help them breathe better
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, which improve blood flow
- Beta blockers, which reduce one’s risk of having an abnormal heart rhythm
- Inotropes, which improve the heart’s ability to pump
Procedures such as coronary bypass surgery and heart valve replacement also treat heart failure patients.
For the study researchers observed 30 heart failure patients aged 18 to 75. The umbilical cords used for the study were from human placentas that had been carried full-term, and the donors of them were deemed ‘healthy’.
Researchers injected some of the trial participants with cells derived from the umbilical cords. Others were injected with a placebo drug.
They concluded that the heart muscles of those who were injected with umbilical cord cells saw ‘significant’ improvement during the year following the trial.
These patients’ hearts were better able to pump blood and they functioned at a higher level. The effects resulted in a higher quality of life for the patients who had received the cells, the study said.
Additionally, no negative side effects were developed among these patients.
The umbilical cord cell treatment is appealing to doctors because it is widely available and easily accessible. It is also less controversial than embryonic stem cell treatments, the researchers noted.
Study author Dr Jorge Bartolucci said that the treatment could transform the way doctors think about heart failure treatments because current options for treating the fatal disease are complicated and ineffective.
‘Standard drug-based regimens can be suboptimal in controlling heart failure, and patients often have to progress to more invasive therapies such as mechanical ventricular assist devices and heart transplantation,’ Dr Bartolucci said.
Another researcher who worked on the study, Dr Fernando Figueroa, echoed the excitement over the study’s potential.
‘We are encouraged by our findings because they could pave the way to a non-invasive, promising new therapy for a group of patients who face grim odds,’ he said.
The study pointed out that, even though recent medical advances have improved these odds, half of the people who are diagnosed with heart failure die within five years of their diagnosis.
The new report was published in an American Heart Association journal called Circulation Research.