Islamabad-A new study tests a groundbreaking approach to treating heart failure. Using the patients’ own muscle stem cells, the researchers successfully patched up damaged hearts, yielding encouraging results.Heart failure can occur due to illnesses such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. It can also be brought on by certain behaviors, including smoking, eating a high-fat diet, not exercising enough, or being obese.

Current treatments are available for heart failure, but they are far from ideal. Initial interventions aim to treat the condition’s underlying cause - high blood pressure, for instance. They also aim to reduce symptoms, prevent further damage, increase lifespan, and improve quality of life.

Certain medical procedures are available if lifestyle changes and medications are not adequate. These include a pacemaker, which can help both sides of the heart to contract in unison, or an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, which corrects the heart’s rhythm if it starts to go off track.

Treatment options for heart failure are not ideal, and there is no good long-term solution. Even with the best care, heart failure can often be fatal. Of course, regenerating the heart tissue itself would be an ideal option. Although far-fetched, this may one day be possible if the results of the current study are confirmed.

This phase I trial involved making patches of cells from the patients’ own thigh muscles (the vastus medialis, specifically).

These patches of so-called autologous somatic tissue-derived cells were then surgically glued onto the surface of the heart’s left ventricle.

Stem cells are sometimes used to entirely replace the body’s failing tissues. However, stem cells can also help to regenerate tissue in a second way - using the paracrine effect.

The implanted tissue secretes factors that encourage the old tissue to behave differently, which is what happened in the current study. The implant helped the existing tissue to perform better, rather than taking over from it.

Following the operation, the patients experienced no significant complications and, a year after the procedure, there were measurable improvements in their exercise capacity and heart function. The authors conclude:

“This phase I study found cell-sheet transplantation as a sole therapy to be a feasible treatment for cardiomyopathy.”