New cell therapy for chronic heart failure actually works, here is how

The new development is promising a potential treatment option for patients with chronic heart failure.
Rupendra Brahambhatt
Cardiovascular disease stock image.
Cardiovascular disease stock image.

Rasi Bhadramani/iStock 

There are over six million patients in the U.S. who suffer from chronic heart failure, and now there is a cell therapy that might help all these patients. 

A team of researchers from the Texas Health Institute (THI) recently published results of the biggest cell therapy trial conducted in 565 heart patients from 51 different cities in the U.S. (also referred to as DREAM HF trials).

They have proposed a treatment called MPC (mesenchymal precursor cell) therapy. During the clinical trials, MPC therapy drastically improved heart functions and reduced the risk of heart attack and stroke in the patients.

“For millions of people in the United States over the age of 20 who suffer from heart failure, MPC therapy could change the future of cardiovascular care for patients with heart failure due to inflammation,” said Dr. Joseph G. Rogers, President of the THI. 

How does MPC therapy work?

Chronic heart failure adversely affects the heart’s pumping ability by making the heart muscles weaker over time. It increases the risk of death from a heart attack, stroke, and various other cardiovascular diseases. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the disease.

The researchers propose that by using special stem cells known as MPCs, patients could get relief from chronic heart failure. These stem cells act as immunomodulators in the body and prevent infection by suppressing or exciting the immune system. The MPCs used by the researchers are developed by Mesoblast Inc., an Australian biotech company. 

In their study, the researchers suggest that inflammation in one of the major causes of heart failure, and MPCs from Mesoblast can heal inflammations. They collected MPCs from the bone marrow of healthy adults and injected them into the 565 patients who participated in the trial. The patients were then monitored for 30 months. 

The researchers noticed that within 12 months the muscles of the left ventricular region regained strength. Moreover, after some time, an improved blood flow and heart pumping action was also observed in the patients as a result of the MPC injection.

Highlighting the results further, lead study author Dr. Emerson C. Perin said: 

“The cells appear to work by reducing inflammation, increasing microvascular flow, and strengthening the heart muscle. Locally, in the heart, the MPCs can protect cardiac muscle cells from dying and can improve blood flow and energetics."

He further added, "In large blood vessels throughout the body, the reduced inflammation resulting from the activation of MPCs may decrease plaque instability, which is what leads to heart attacks and strokes.” 

MPC therapy could prove to be a boon

The patients who underwent the MPC treatment experienced improved cardiovascular health like never before. The therapy lowered the risk of death from a heart attack by 58 percent in normal heart patients and by 75 percent in patients with high inflammation.

Most of the already available medical solutions for the disease deal with the issue of repetitive heart attacks in patients. However, MPC instead addresses the inflammation inside the body which is one of the root causes of chronic heart failure. 

The authors suggest that more studies are required to further confirm the benefits and risks of MPC therapy in humans before it is declared a mainstream treatment method for millions of patients across the globe.

The study is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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