Heart failure repair technique breakthrough – Stem cells trial offers new hope | Health | Life & Style

A high-level meeting has paved the way for global trials to begin on hundreds of patients.

British scientists have found a way to use stem cells to repair damaged tissue which could help millions living with heart failure, the UK’s leading cause of death.

Scarring due to disease or heart attacks affects more than two million people in Britain.

Initial trials involving more than 100 patients are being planned for the autumn at two London hospitals.

World renowned cardiac surgeon Professor Steve Westaby, who helped pioneer the revolutionary technique, said it had been thought that repairing heart damage was impossible.

But results from a long-term trial that began in Greece five years ago have shown that this is not the case.

Preliminary data from this trial showed the engineered stem cells, known as Heartcel, can reverse scarring by up to 79 per cent.

The data, presented at the European Society of Cell and Gene Therapy in Florence, showed an average of 40 per cent reduction in heart damage in those on the treatment.

Last month researchers finalised talks with European and US regulators to discuss the timetable for global trials next year involving 500 people.

Professor Westaby, from the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, said: “I am very excited at the prospect of a trial which will hopefully lead to the availability of this stem cell treatment to thousands of patients annually in the UK.”

Other scientists have tried in vain to repair damaged heart muscle using stem cells over…

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