In a major breakthrough recorded by the British Heart Foundation, a pumping heart patch could save lives of 52,000 hearts in London. Researchers report that the patch contains millions of living and beating stem cells which are eligible to repair damages caused by a heart attack.
Scientists at Imperial College London have grown the patches using stem cell technology. Developed inside a lab, the patch was created from a sample of patient’s own cells, incubated for three to four weeks and then grafted onto a patient’s heart. The patch, which is 3cm (1in) by 2 cm, is sewn into the heart and has the capacity of a healthy working muscle. Moreover, the patch also releases chemicals that can repair and regenerate existing heart cells.
Earlier tests on rabbits confirmed the safety of the patch. Especially beneficial to people who have suffered a heart attack which clogs artery blocks, the patch can improve the heart’s pumping. Dr. Richard Jabbour, a researcher on the project said: “One day, we hope to add heart patches to the treatments that doctors can routinely offer people after a heart attack. We could prescribe one of these patches alongside medicines for someone with heart failure, which you could take from a shelf and implant straight into a person.”
Reports from the British Cardiovascular Society confirmed that patient trials will start in the coming two years.
“Heart failure is a debilitating and life-changing condition with no cure, making everyday tasks incredibly difficult. If we can patch the heart up and help it heal, we could transform the outlook for these people,” reports Prof Metin Avkiran, from the British Heart Foundation, the organization played a key role in funding the research.