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Stem cells for heart patients

8th November 2006

27042006_operating_room.jpgBone marrow stem cells are being used as part of a pioneering trial to repair damage caused by heart attacks.

The trial, at St Barts Hospital in London, will involve up to 100 people, and will look at the effects of giving patients injections of their own stem cells within five hours of suffering their heart attack.

Heart attacks kill 108,000 people in the UK each year, and there are currently estimated to be 660,000 heart attack survivors.

Deaths have been reduced dramatically thanks to angioplasty, which clears the blocked arteries of patients which causes the heart attack.

But patients are still at risk as the damaged heart muscle cannot be repaired and may lead to heart failure.

The treatment may help repair the damage, but patients are being warned not to expect too much from the trial.

Stem cells are immature cells that have the potential to become any kind of tissue in the body.

Previous studies have shown that stem cell delivery to the heart is safe.

The project is being funded by the UK Stem Cell Foundation.

It is estimated that heart attacks cost the UK economy around £7bn a year.


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