London: Coming soon: A single stem cell jab which could mend a broken heart, say scientists.
The scientists say the injection - using stem cells taken from the bone marrow of healthy young adults - could halve the damage suffered in heart attack victims, and may be available to patients within five years.
The product, called Revascor, is about to go into advanced clinical trials. It can be used on any patient and it has the potential to help up to 40 percent of heart attack victims, the `Daily Express` reported.
In early tests by its developers at Australian company Mesoblast, it cut damage done in severe heart attacks by 50 percent. Patients given the treatment had 80 percent fewer subsequent attacks.
The scientists say one stem cell donation could provide millions of cells known as MPCs. These will rejuvenate heart muscle, rushing to the site of the attack and reinforcing the heart. The system means the younger generation is effectively helping save older generation from being blighted by illness.
The process starts by "harvesting" 60 ml of bone marrow fluid from adults who have been screened. Donations take about 30 minutes; the MPC cells are mixed with an anti-body, multiplied in a lab and then frozen in batches.
Injections will be given to patients who get to hospital within 12 hours of suffering an attack as they receive a stent to open their blocked arteries. Each patient will get either 12.5 million or 25 million cells. Because the cells will not be rejected by the body`s auto immune system they can be used on any patient, say the scientists.
Dr Donna Skerrett, Mesoblast`s chief medical officer, said: "They are there and ready to use off the shelf. The cells are ready to use in 30 minutes and are injected via a catheter. The cells rejuvenate the heart muscle, reduce scarring and increase blood flow."
Research cardiologist Professor Eric Duckers added: "The pre-clinical trials were very compelling. This has the potential to greatly improve the quality of life for patients suffering acute attacks."