Again we find that stem cells could be the cure for things that had been incurable.

Heart attacks occur when the heart muscle is starved of oxygen, usually because the arteries that supply it with blood become blocked with fatty deposits. A bypass operation restores this blood supply, but the lack of oxygen leads to permanent scarring of the heart muscle.

Even after the operation the heart’s activity does not return to normal. "If you have a large heart attack like this and you are lucky and are referred for a bypass operation, your quality of life will be permanently affected because the pumping function of your heart is reduced," said Raimondo Ascione, the surgeon who is leading the research. "Your tolerance to exercise is reduced so you can’t really enjoy your life."

The trial will involve patients with the worst prognosis, those who have scarring on at least half of the left ventricular wall. "It’s the worst heart attack you can have. Most patients just die," said Ascione.

The team will extract bone marrow from all 60 patients and separate out a class of stem cells that makes up 1% of the tissue. Previous studies have suggested that this cell type is able to regenerate heart muscle cells and blood vessels. By using the patient’s own cells there will be no problems with tissue rejection.

But again, as well, is a missing word in the article.  It’s implied in that last quoted paragraph, but it’s not said by name.  These are adult stem cells, from the patient.  Very little these days is said about adult stem cells, because of the agenda of folks who want embryonic stem cell research to get federal funding. 

The question isn’t whether or not embryonic stem cells would be useful.  The real question is; if adult stem cells have such wide, varied uses, and have been proven to work time after time, why do we want to step into the ethical quagmire of using embryos?

Doug Payton blogs at Considerettes.

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