A biotechnology company in France has developed a new stem cell treatment for heart attack victims who would otherwise need to wait for a transplant. CellProthera, which is based in Mulhouse in eastern France, is currently halfway through clinical trials with 50 patients and says the new treatment could be available by 2026, all being well. The pioneering treatment uses stem cells from a patient’s own body to repair their heart. During an extremely promising first stage trial, patients with very bad hearts were injected with stem cells. Their hearts were seen to start repairing themselves and most were able to live lives similar to those before they fell sick. CellProthera spokeswoman Paula Lee told The Connexion: “They are all people who have had severe heart attacks, which have damaged the heart muscles.” If all goes to plan, CellProthera’s second-stage trials will end in mid-2023, followed by a third stage on a wider patient pool, with full approval for use in 2026. Approximately 80,000 people in France suffer from heart attacks each year, with 12,000 resulting in immediate death. Another 10% pass away within an hour of the attack, while 15% of survivors die within a year. CellProthera aims to assist the approximately 30% of individuals who survive the initial heart attack but have weakened heart muscle due to oxygen deprivation during the attack. Without treatment, this often leads to death within five years. “We cannot say yet what the cost per patient will be but it will be much cheaper than a heart transplant,” added Lee. *Image by Pexels from Pixabay
Doctors in the UK say that multiple sclerosis (MS) patients who have received a treatment that is usually used for treating cancer are showing “remarkable” improvements. Some 20 MS patients have now received bone marrow transplants using their own stem cells and in some cases the treatment has enabled people who were paralysed to walk once more. Prof Basil Sharrack, of Sheffield's Royal Hallamshire Hospital, said: "To have a treatment which can potentially reverse disability is really a major achievement." MS is a neurological condition for which there is no known cure and affects around 100,000 people in the UK alone. It causes the body’s immune system to attack the lining of the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. The treatment, which is known as autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT), attempts to destroy the faulty immune system with chemotherapy before a new immune system is built using the patient’s own stem cells. The cells are so young that they haven’t yet developed the flaws which cause MS. Prof John Snowden, consultant haematologist at Royal Hallamshire Hospital, said: "The immune system is being reset or rebooted back to a time point before it caused MS." One patient who received the treatment said that MS had completely changed his entire life. He went from running marathons one day to losing the sensation in his entire body the next. The new treatment, however, has allowed him to stand unaided once more. "It's been incredible. I was in a dire place, but now I can swim and cycle and I am determined to walk,” Steven Storey said.