February 26, 2017

UK Heart Disease Breakthrough

Who says medicine in UK is abysmal?

Trials have been completed in Greece and are planned in UK and the US this year and next for a stem cell therapy of heart muscle that reverses the scarring induced by heart disease.

This is the first time scarring has been shown to be reversible. It could herald an end to transplants and lead to a treatment for heart failure within three to five years.

Professor Westaby said: "This would be the biggest breakthrough since the first transplants three decades ago."

Professor Westaby has been working on the technique for more than a decade and is carrying out the study with Professor Kim Fox, head of the National Heart and Lung Institute, at Imperial College London.

The implanted stem cells were created by medical outfit Celixir, co-founded by Nobel laureate Professor Martin Evans, the first scientist to culture mice embryonic stem cells in a laboratory.

Professor Westaby was inspired to work on the breakthrough in 1999 after a four-month-old baby girl's heart healed itself after he carried out a major life-saving operation.

Kirsty Collier, from Swindon, was dying of a serious and rare heart defect. In a last ditch effort Professor Westaby cut away a third of her badly damaged heart.

Surprisingly it began to beat. Fourteen years later a scan has shown that the heart had healed itself.

Now Kirsty, 18, has a normal one. Professor Westaby said: "She was essentially dead and was only resurrected by what I regarded at the time as a completely bizarre operation.

"The fact there was no sign of heart damage told me there were foetal stem cells in babies' hearts that could remove scarring of heart muscle. That never happens in adults.

"It's all down to the clues we got from Kirsty's operation."

Health Care Science Technology Posted by JohnGalt at February 26, 2017 1:30 PM
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