Many researchers support the potential of umbilical cord stem cells to treat heart failure in adults due to the positive outcome of the research trials. However, there are no long-term safety studies available on the effects of using autologous (self) umbilical cord stem cells for the treatment of congenital heart diseases in juveniles. There is an uncertainty that exist in the feasibility and long term safety of cord blood stem cell transplant for congenital heart diseases that may cause heart failure in kids.
A team of researchers at the Mayo clinic in Rochester conducted a study on piglets to evaluate the long term safety features of injecting umbilical cord stem cells directly into the heart muscles to treat congenital heart disease during pediatric heart development. As the pig’s heart mechanism is similar to humans, piglets were used for this study and it got published in the last month edition of STEM CELLS Transitional Medicine journal.
During the study, the team injected the autologous umbilical cord stem cells directly into the right ventricle of healthy piglets which were only 3-4 weeks old. The cardiac performance and rhythm of the piglets were observed for over a period of 3 months and the results were compared with a control group that didn’t receive the stem cell transplant. According to the lead author of the study, Dr. Timothy J. Nelson, there were no acute or chronic cardiac injury developed and the animals appeared normal and healthy.
“This study establishes the foundation for cell based therapy for children and aims to accelerate the science towards clinical trials for helping children with congenital heart disease that could benefit from regenerative medicine,” he added.
With further research and clinical trials using this therapeutic strategy, we can conclude the potential of umbilical cord stem cell therapy for the effective treatment of congenital heart diseases in kids.