Cardiac Stem Cell Therapy: A House of Cards About to Fall? — Physician’s First Watch
Cardiac Stem Cell Therapy: A House of Cards About to Fall?
By Larry Husten
Many of the most promising results in cardiac stem cell therapy are illusory, and the potential benefits of stem cells to treat heart disease are probably far more modest than previously believed, according to a BMJ study. The study also raises disturbing questions about ethics and research misconduct.
Researchers examined 133 reports from nearly 50 different clinical trials testing autologous bone marrow stem cells in patients with heart disease. They found more than 600 discrepancies, ranging from minor oversights to serious unexplained errors and apparent deceptions.
The number of discrepancies was strongly correlated with the reported improvement in heart function. Five trials with no discrepancies reported no improvement in left ventricular ejection fraction (-0.4%), while five trials with the highest number of discrepancies (>30 each) reported a large and, if true, clinically significant improvement (+7.7%).
Coincidentally, a newly released Cochrane review found "some evidence that stem cell treatment may be of benefit" in heart disease. But, reviewers noted, "the quality of the evidence is relatively low because there were few deaths and hospital readmissions in the studies, and individual study results varied."
Adapted from CardioExchange.