In our 2015 blog post, “Clinical Trial: Could Cord Blood Stem Cells Help Treat Heart Defects?”, we focused on the then-upcoming Mayo Clinic phase I trial designed to evaluate the safety and feasibility of using one’s own cord blood cells to help improve heart function in those with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS). Today, we provide a long-awaited update!
What is HLHS?
HLHS, which affects approximately 1,000 U.S. babies each year,1 is a severe congenital heart defect in which the left side of the heart is underdeveloped. As a result, the baby doesn’t receive enough oxygen-rich blood, forcing them to undergo three surgeries early in life to reconstruct the heart.
In their study, researchers were hoping that the injection of cord blood into the heart during one of those surgeries might help improve heart function. Let’s see what they found.
Cord Blood: Safe and Feasible for HLHS
Success! Researchers found that cord blood injections in conjunction with surgery were both safe and feasible for the infant participants. Importantly, none of the children were found to have any significant safety concerns at six months post-surgery.
“Our hopes are that this groundbreaking research will lead to stem cell therapy strengthening these babies’ hearts while delaying or even preventing the need for a heart transplant in some,” says Harold Burkhart, M.D., a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon at OU Medicine in Oklahoma and first author on the paper.
This small study is the first step in uncovering the potential of cord blood to offer a therapeutic benefit in pediatric congenital heart disease. As such, it highlights the vast potential and excitement in using newborn stem cells for regenerative medicine.
The Mayo Clinic’s HLHS Consortium has begun planning a phase 2 clinical study with fifty infant participants, which will further test safety and examine the efficacy of cord blood to improve heart function.
Please note that this trial is only available to those who have stored with the Mayo Clinic’s facility for this specific purpose, and is not open for participation by prospective or existing CBR families.
However, if you are pregnant and your baby has been diagnosed with HLHS, call us at 1.888.932.6568 to see if you’re eligible for our Newborn Possibilities Program. We’ve provided free newborn stem cell processing and five years of storage for 7,000+ families with a qualifying medical need.
Read the full Mayo Clinic press release here. As always, we’ll continue bringing you the latest science and research on everything newborn stem cell-related.