【Current status of cardiovascular diseases and potential of stem cell treatment】
Heart and vascular diseases such as cardiac insufficiency, myocardial infarction, and arteriosclerosis, are prone to be associated with a poor prognosis even with the latest technology of cardiovascular medicine. Heart transplantation is one of the radical treatments for heart diseases. Although the number of heart transplantation has dramatically increased after the Revised Organ Transplant Law has been entered into force on 2010, it’s difficult to cure all cardiac patients by transplantation due to a lack of donor hearts all over the world. Regenerative medicine is anticipated to cure the diseases that cannot be cured by conventional treatments.
【Institutes conducting animal experiments or clinical trials】
◆ Kanazawa University ◆ Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine
◆ Nagasaki University ◆ Juntendo University
◆ National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST)
◆ Asahikawa Medical University
【Case : Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine】
Regarding the research that used the chronic ischemic heart disease model of pigs, it has been reported that the cardiac-derived stem cells recover lost heart functions by regeneration of damaged myocardial tissues. According to this result, clinical trials have been conducted to improve heart function of patients with serious heart failure by transplanting autologous cardiac-derived stem cells into their hearts. In the clinical trials, autologous cardiac-derived stem cells were cultivated for about 40 days and were transplanted into the site of damaged heart during coronary artery bypass surgery; the transplanted sites of heart were covered with the special gelatin sheet containing bFGF to facilitate rapid plating of stem cells.
Although the conventional bypass surgery improves the rate of cardiac contraction (heart pumping function) by only 3-4 percentage points, stem cell combined treatment performed in the clinical trial improves it from 22% to 32%. This suggests that stem cells differentiated into the vascular cells and myocardiums. It is reported that heart functions was recovered and side effects such as the arrhythmia were not found as a result of the treatment.
This clinical research has started from April 2010 and all six of the patients who had surgery have made good progress. The safety and effects of stem cell treatment are being researched to use stem cells not only for chronic ischemic heart disease but also for the other heart diseases such as the dilated cardiomyopathy.