Researchers from Queen Mary, University of London have received new funding to find out whether an innovative method of stem cell therapy can help damaged heart muscle to recover and regenerate itself.
National charity Heart Research UK has awarded nearly £112,000 to the team from the William Harvey Research Institute at Queen Mary, to study a novel method to deliver stem cells for the treatment of heart failure. If successful, the research could provide a new approach to treating heart failure which may ultimately save lives and improve the quality of life of heart failure patients.
The research team, led by Professor Ken Suzuki, has developed a novel bio-engineering technology to produce intact ‘sheets’ of high-quality stem cells. Recent research has shown that a specific type of stem cell – mesenchymal stem cells – collected from healthy donors, can be transplanted into patients without causing immune rejection.
This research project will test the safety and ability of the cell-sheet technique in delivering mesenchymal stem cells, from healthy donors, to the heart. It is expected that the stem cells transplanted by this method will survive better and contribute more to the recovery and regeneration of damaged hearts compared to those transplanted by the current methods.
“Stem cell therapy is a promising new approach for the treatment of heart failure, but further understanding and refinement of the protocol is essential for this approach to be widely used in the hospital. Our new method may be able to draw the maximal potential of stem cell therapy,” said Professor Suzuki. “This method will be easily applied to patients receiving heart surgery such as coronary artery bypass grafting. If we could successfully establish this new treatment, we can hopefully save more lives of heart failure patients and reduce hospital admissions and costs.”
Barbara Harpham, National Director of Heart Research UK, said: “This is an exciting project because it could change the way we treat heart failure, a very debilitating condition which is growing because of the ageing population, and provide better chances of survival after heart attack, which can leave a patient with a weakened heart.”
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