In Chile, an initial clinical trial to test treatment with umbilical cord stem cells in thirty patients with heart failure has proved “encouraging“. The publication in the American Heart Association journal refers to “notable improvements in cardiac muscle and in patients’ quality of life“. Scientists refer to a “new promising, non-invasive treatment for patients with limited treatment options“.
The patients, who are between 18 and 75 years old, received umbilical cord-derived stem cells or a placebo via intravenous injection. The umbilical cords were collected from consenting healthy donors following Caesarean section. The patients who received stem cell therapy witnessed an improvement in heart function over the next 12 months with no adverse reaction or immune system-related complication.
According to the team, stem cells harvested from umbilical blood are easily accessible, widely available, unlikely to cause immune complications and do not raise the same ethical problems as human embryo stem cells.
The Chilean trial has yet to be confirmed by wider-ranging clinical trials.