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Umbilical cords could provide life-saving blood for patients with fatal heart failure


PHOTO: Cord Blood Aware

Cells from newborns’ umbilical cords could provide a lifesaving treatment for heart failure patients, a study has found.

The report from the American Heart Association revealed that the cells improved these patients’ heart function when injected into their veins. And the non-invasive, experimental treatment proved safe, as no adverse side effects appeared as a result of the injections.

The new report was published in an American Heart Association journal called Circulation Research.

Experts are hopeful that the study could improve the lives of the 37 million people worldwide who live with heart failure, as the current standard treatments are invasive procedures and harsh medications that are hard on patients’ bodies.


For the study researchers observed 30 heart failure patients aged 18 to 75. The umbilical cords used for the study were from human placentas that had been carried full-term, and the donors of them were deemed ‘healthy’.

Researchers injected some of the trial participants with cells derived from the umbilical cords. Others were injected with a placebo drug.

They concluded that the heart muscles of those who were injected with umbilical cord cells saw ‘significant’ improvement during the year following the trial.

These patients’ hearts were better able to pump blood and they functioned at a higher level. The effects resulted in a higher quality of life for the patients who had received the cells, the study said.

Additionally, no negative side effects were developed among these patients.

The umbilical cord cell treatment is appealing to doctors because it is widely available and easily accessible. It is also less controversial than embryonic stem cell treatments, the researchers noted.

Study author Dr. Jorge Bartolucci said that the treatment could transform the way doctors think about heart failure treatments because current options for treating the fatal disease are complicated and ineffective.

“Standard drug-based regimens can be suboptimal in controlling heart failure, and patients often have to progress to more invasive therapies such as mechanical ventricular assist devices and heart transplantation,” Bartolucci said.

The study pointed out that, even though recent medical advances have improved these odds, half of the people who are diagnosed with heart failure die within five years of their diagnosis.

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