Heart attack scars can be healed with stem cells
A small study, which was carried out by a team of American doctors, has revealed that there is a way to heal heart scars that form after a heart attack.
The researchers found using stem cells from a heart attack patient’s own heart was successful in healing damage and scarring which, until now, was thought to be permanent.
It was also discovered that the stem cells actually helped to regrow new heart muscles.
There are now hopes the discovery could lead to improved regenerative treatments for patients following a cardiac arrest.
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Usually after a heart attack scar tissue forms in place of the dead muscles, which restricts the heart’s ability to pump blood around the body.
Although after the stem cell therapy the cardiac scarring was halved in those patients involved in the study, the doctors do not believe the heart’s pumping capacity, or ejection fraction as it is otherwise known, was increased.
To carry out the investigation the doctors recruited 25 patients who had suffered a cardiac arrest during the previous month.
Over half of the study participants – 17 of them – received coronary artery stem cell infusions while the remaining eight underwent more traditional post-heart attack care.
After 12 months of treatment, the patients receiving stem cell therapy saw their scarring reduce from 24 percent to just 12.
There was no reduction in scarring noted in those patients receiving the standard cardiac care.
“The effects are substantial and surprisingly larger in humans than they were in animal tests,” commented Professor Eduardo Marban, the study leader and Director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in LA, where the research was carried out.
“This discovery challenges the conventional wisdom that, once established, scar is permanent and that, once lost, healthy heart muscle cannot be restored,” he said.
The results of the Phase 1 study are now appearing in well-known medical journal The Lancet.
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Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool
An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system.
NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion.
Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making.
In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog.
Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening.
DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.
Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges.
"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”