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Stem cells may improve lives of patients with angina

American scientists successfully used stem cells for improving condition of patients with refractory angina. This is a severe chest pain caused by ischemia – a lack of blood and oxygen supply in the heart. For participating in clinical trial the researchers selected 167 patients aged 21 to 80 years old suffering from angina. These individuals exhausted all conventional therapeutic methods but still had severe chest pain.

Stem cells from the own patients’ blood were used for treating angina. The quantity of these cells circulating in the blood flow is very low. So before the procedure of stem cells collecting the patients got special drugs to stimulate their growth. Then the participants of the trial were divided into three equal groups. The first group got placebo, the second one – low dose of stem cells, the third one – high dose.

Stem cells were injected directly in ischemic areas of the heart using catheter. They are considered to enhance vascularization in myocardium, improving its perfusion. The condition of the patients was examined twice, in 6 months and a year after the therapy. The primary indicator was weekly frequency of angina. Besides, the scientists estimated the exercise tolerance of the patients, which means the time they can walk on the treadmill.

In half a year the frequency of angina episodes in the group treated with the low dose of stem cells was fewer than in control group – approximately 7 versus 11 per week. Angina was also less frequent in the high-dose group but this difference was statistically insignificant. After a year the angina frequency in low-dose group comparing to 6-months values dropped but only slightly – approximately to 6 episodes per week. After half a year total exercise time improved greatly in the group treated with the low dose of stem cells. The patients could walk 139 seconds on average, while individuals from the control group could do this for 69 seconds on average.

The clinical trial demonstrated that using stem cells may improve the quality of life of patients with severe refractory angina. There were no complications associated with the therapy, which proved safety and efficacy of the method. More studies are needed to investigate doses of stem cells optimal for treatment, as the research discovered that low dose appeared to be more effective than high one.