Science in Society Archive

Heart Repair with Bone Marrow Cells

In a sensationally simple operation, doctors have patched up a patient’s failing heart using stem cells taken from his bone marrow. No need for patented embryonic stem cells nor immune suppressive drugs, which is why profit-driven corporate science can’t afford to do it.

Bone marrow stem cells removed from the 46-year-old man were injected into arteries near his heart. The cells migrated to areas damaged by a heart attack, and turned into healthy muscle cells. The operation was carried out four days after the man suffered a serious heart attack, and lost a quarter of his heart muscle after the organ was starved of oxygen.

Prof Bodo Eckehard Strauer carried out the treatment at the Dusseldorf University Cardiac Clinic where he is director. He reported that in ten weeks, the size of the damage has reduced by nearly a third, and the capacity of the heart itself has clearly improved.

"Stem cell therapy could be more successful than all other previous treatments put together." He said. "Even patients with the most seriously damaged hearts can be treated with their own stem cells instead of waiting and hoping on a transplant."

Since March, Prof Strauer said he has treated six patients aged between 38 and 67 with their own stem cells, and they showed similar improvement.

"Our results should show that it is possible to do this work without the ethically controversial embryonic stem cells," said Prof Strauer.

Another procedure that could be investigated is to boost the patient’s own circulating bone-marrow stem cells (see "Adult bone marrow cells mend heart without transplant", ISIS Report, 23 August, 2001).

Article first published 04/10/01


  1. "Stem cell therapy repairs a heart" by Hannah Cleaver and David Derbyshire, The Daily Telegraph, 25 August 2001

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