Vatican-honoured scientist nears Australian stem-cell therapy

Professor Itescu

A scientist honoured by the Vatican for work in adult stem cell research is close to producing a therapy for an Australian company to treat congestive heart failure – the biggest killer in the industrialised world, reports The Catholic Herald.

Professor Silviu Itescu, the chief executive of Mesoblast, an Australia-based regenerative medicine company, is pioneering a therapy that requires a single injection of 150 million adult stem cells into the heart – and no conventional surgery.

The scientist, who is not Catholic, last year received the inaugural Key Innovator Award from the Pontifical Council for Culture for his leadership and ingenuity in translational science and clinical medicine in the field of adult stem cell therapy.

His work is identifying huge potential for a wide variety of therapies without any of the “ethical constraints” incumbent in destructive stem-cell research on human embryos.

The breakthrough in the quest for a heart failure therapy gives new hope for “end-stage” patients with the most severe form of the condition and who rely on external machines to pump blood around the body which are costly and uncomfortable for the patient.

Final phase trials on 120 heart disease sufferers follow a successful earlier trial on 30 patients which showed that the therapy worked safely on a small number of patients.

Experts said that if the larger trial proves to be an equal success then the first stem cell-based therapy to treat advanced heart failure – known scientifically as “class IV” failure – could be on the market in six years.

FULL STORY Scientist honoured by the Vatican on verge of stem-cell breakthrough (The Catholic Herald)

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