Doctors have implanted adult stem cells extracted from a man’s fat tissue through liposuction into his heart, in an experimental treatment for angina and heart disease, a Spanish hospital said on Tuesday.
The Gregorio Maranon Hospital in Madrid said the 67-year-old man, the first patient to receive the treatment, was doing well but warned it could take up to six months to see whether the cells repaired the damaged vessels.
“Cardiologists ... have implanted adult stem cells from fat in the heart of a patient for the first time in the world,” the state hospital said in a statement.
Stem cells are master cells in the body that can transform in any type of cell or tissue. Scientists believe they could one day be used to treat a range of diseases.
Cardiologists at the Spanish hospital are developing the new treatment with doctors at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston. They said the man, whose name has not been made public and who had the treatment on Jan. 30, is the first in a study which will involve 36 patients.
Spanish cardiologist Francisco Fernandez-Aviles and his American colleague Emerson Perin extracted the stem cells.
“In just five hours approximately the cells were extracted, purified, selected and implanted with the aim of regenerating new blood vessels which may allow them to flow blood properly to the heart of the patient”, the hospital said.
Cells extracted from fat do not need to be cultivated for three weeks, like other types of stem cells, so in just two hours 28 million cells were ready for implanting.
Plastic surgeons extracted the fat tissue from the patient’s abdomen and implanted the cells using a catheter.