The largest ever trial of adult stem cell therapy in heart attack patients has begun at The London Chest Hospital in the UK.
Heart disease is the world's leading cause of death. Heart attacks are usually caused by a clot in the coronary artery, which stops the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart. If the blockage is not treated within a few hours, then it causes the heart muscle to die.
The stem cell trial is titled "The effect of intracoronary reinfusion of bone marrow-derived mononuclear cells on allcause mortality in acute myocardial infarction," or "BAMI". It has been made possible due to a €5.9 million award from the European Commission.
The full study involves 19 partners across France, Germany, Italy, Finland, Denmark, Spain, Belgium, Poland, the Czech Republic and the UK. A total of 3,000 patients will be involved in the trial to test whether life can be prolonged by administering stem cells from the patient's own bone marrow. The stem cells are injected into the patient's heart within 5 days of suffering a heart attack.
The doctors behind the study hope that this could increase heart attack patients' survival rates by 25%.
BAMI follows in the steps of three stem cell trials titled "REGENERATE." These trials, conducted by Barts Health NHS Trust in the UK, have been running for 4 years. The REGENERATE trials use bone marrow stem cells to treat patients with ischemic heart disease, acute myocardial infarction and heart failure caused by idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy.