SEATTLE – Autologous stem cell therapy improves surgery outcomes in children with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, according to the results of a small prospective trial from Okayama University in Japan.
The investigators cultured cardiosphere-derived cells (CDCs) – cardiac progenitor cells – from right atrium samples taken during stage 2 or 3 surgical palliations in seven HLHS children. A month later, they injected 300,000 CDCs/kg into the children’s coronary arteries by catheter, with each child getting cells cultured from their own tissue.
The cells seemed to jump-start the intrinsic regenerative properties of very young hearts. At 30 months follow-up, right ventricular mass and ejection fractions were about 10% greater in CDC treated patients compared to seven controls. Treated children also had better growth.
It’s possible the technique could help older children, too, and even adults, said lead investigator Dr. Shunji Sano, professor and chairman of the department of cardiovascular surgery at Okayama. He explained the work, its implications, and the next phase of research in an interview at the annual meeting of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery.