US researchers have made a human cell-based heart patch applied to a pig. It helped speed recovery after a heart attack.
Significantly medically sized muscle patches, composed of human cells, were placed on animal hearts after infarction. These patches allow a better recovery of the heart after a heart attack.
In France, cell therapy trials of the same type have been conducted for 20 years with Pr Philippe Ménasché and his team. The cells are cultured in the laboratory, derived from embryonic stem cells, and then implanted in humans on the part of the heart injured by the infarction, during a procedure for coronary bypass surgery. This promising technique is still being tested.
For their part, researchers from the University of Birmingham in the United States have done their work on the heart of a pig. The patches made were not thicker than a coin. Two were placed on the place of infarction on the heart of the pig. This operation improved the functioning of the left ventricle and reduced the extent of the infarction, the part where the muscle died. This technique also makes it possible not to have a disturbance of the cardiac rhythm. This complication has already been observed in other clinical trials using other approaches.
A patch mixing several types of cells
Three different cells were used to make these patches: 4 million cardiomyocites, these are the cells that make up the heart muscle, 2 million endothelial cells, they line the blood vessels, and finally two million smooth muscle cells. This technique resulted in higher quality, more numerous cells with superior physiological capabilities compared to cells made using other techniques.
This research could help improve post-infarction heart surgery. According to Inserm, in France 120,000 people have an infarction each year, about 18,000 die.