Breakthrough stem cell treatment tested for pulmonary hypertension

Doctors in Germany may have made a breakthrough as they treated a young girl suffering from a serious pulmonary condition that can lead to heart failure by applying umbilical cord stem cell products.

Researchers from the Medical School of Hannover (MHH) announce that it is “the first successful treatment in the world to halt the usually fatal course of the disease.”

Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is high blood pressure in the blood vessels that supply the lungs.

There is currently no cure for the condition which can affect people of all ages.

Microgram of cultured human mesenchymal stem cells from donor umbilical cord. For the first time, these stem cell products were used to treat a young girl with a serious pulmonary condition.
Zenger News/Ralph Hayes, MHH-Frauenklinik

Risk factors include family history, prior blood clots in the lungs, mitral valve problems, and sleep apnea.

MHH specialists treated their three-year-old patient five times for a total of six months with mesenchymal stem cell products derived from human umbilical cord.

Mesenchymal stem cells are multipotent stem cells found in the bone marrow that are important for building and repairing skeletal tissues such as cartilage.

Professor Georg Hansmann is director of the MHH Translational Cardiopulmonary Biomedicine Research Group and chief attending physician of the clinic in the Department of Pediatric Cardiology and Intensive Care Medicine.

Hansmann said: “The treatment led to significant improvements in growth, exercise tolerance and clinical cardiovascular variables. It also reduced the number of plasma markers in the blood, which can be detected in vascular constriction and inflammation.”

The expert explained: “After six months, not only was there a clear improvement in health, but there were also no undesirable side effects.”

Hansman said it was the first successful therapy for people suffering from obvious forms of PAH.

The physician said: “Further studies are needed to confirm and explore the benefits of this new stem cell therapy.”

Stem Cells On A Computer Screen
Stem cells are seen on a computer screen at the Stem Cell Institute of the University of Connecticut at UConn Health Center on August 27, 2010 in Farmington, Connecticut.
Getty Images / Spencer Platt

Repetitive mesenchymal stem cell therapy is based on cells from the umbilical cord of newborns.

The investigation by MHH experts showed that the products of these stem cells from the umbilical cord were not able to improve regeneration in damaged blood vessels.

They were also found to inhibit blood vessel inflammation and prevent damage to parts of cells.

Hansmann said: “We have evidence that this therapy had many beneficial effects.

In the hearts of treated patients, it primarily protects the mitochondria that provide energy. In the lungs, the treatment primarily inhibits inflammation and stimulates regeneration.”

Hansmann underlined that “an extremely large team of scientists, researchers and doctors helped implement this ‘personalized treatment experiment’.”

MHH collaborated on this treatment with the Charité of Berlin and Leiden University in the Netherlands.

Hansman came up with the new therapeutic approach through preliminary experiments with animal mesenchymal stem cells, which he conducted at Harvard Medical School in Boston in the United States in 2011 and 2012, research at MHH, and eventually, through the request of From the girl’s parents.

The MHH team of experts recognizes that this type of therapy needs to be repeated at regular intervals to be successful in the long term.

Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) lists shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain and a racing heartbeat, among other possible PAH symptoms.

On its website, the NHS warns: “Symptoms often get worse during exercise, which can limit your ability to participate in physical activities.

“If you have a type of pulmonary hypertension known as pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), you may not have any symptoms until the condition is quite advanced.”

Siemens Lung Display
Siemens displays a lung with a light art installation during the 3rd World Health Expo held in Wuhan, Hubei province, China on April 8, 2021.
Getty Images

The NHS further states: “Pulmonary hypertension cannot be cured, but treatment can ease symptoms and help you manage your condition. Pulmonary hypertension usually gets worse over time.” . Left untreated, it can lead to heart failure, which can be fatal, so it is important treatment. Started as soon as possible.”

The Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, or Hannover Medical School (MHH) was founded in 1965.

With over 3,500 students and 8,100 full-time employees, it is the leading scientific research institution in the northwestern German state of Lower Saxony.

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