Modest progress is demonstrated in a recent stem cell therapy trial for heart failure, putting some ballpark numbers to the level of benefits obtained by patients in reputable overseas clinics for some years now. It is to be expected that this sort of published result will lend further support for medical tourism while these therapies remain restricted and largely unavailable in countries like the US, thanks to the heavy hand of the FDA and similar regulatory bodies.
This trial also shows the scope of remaining progress yet to be achieved if the goal is complete organ repair, something that will likely prove impossible without an accompanying repair of at least some of the low-level biochemical damage of aging. Heart failure doesn't just randomly happen in the vast majority of cases - it emerges as a consequence of the accumulated damage of aging in heart tissue and other organs.
The multi-center, randomized Cardiopoietic stem cell therapy in heart failure (C-CURE) trial involved heart failure patients from Belgium, Switzerland and Serbia. Patients in the control group received standard care for heart failure in accordance with established guidelines. Patients in the cell therapy arm received, in addition to standard care, cardiopoietic stem cells - a first-in-class biotherapeutic. In this process, bone marrow was harvested from the top of the patient's hip, and isolated stem cells were treated with a protein cocktail to replicate natural cues of heart development. Derived cardiopoietic stem cells were then injected into the patient's heart.
Every patient in the stem cell treatment group improved. Heart pumping function improved in each patient within six months following cardiopoietic stem cell treatment. In addition, patients experienced improved fitness and were able to walk longer distances than before stem cell therapy. "Six months after treatment, the cell therapy group had a 7 percent absolute improvement in EF (ejection fraction) over baseline, versus a non-significant change in the control group. This improvement in EF is dramatic, particularly given the duration between the ischemic injury and cell therapy. It compares favorably with our most potent therapies in heart failure."