Stem cell therapy can stop cardiac muscle necrosis caused by myocardial infarction. Still, local patients cannot receive the treatment because the government has yet to list it as a new medical technology, a hospital said.
According to Seoul National University Hospital (SNUH), a patient had sudden chest pain on Nov. 18 and was transferred from a primary hospital to a tertiary institution. The diagnosis showed that he had an acute myocardial infarction, and he received an emergency stenting.
The patient recently visited another hospital and was told that half of his cardiac muscle was necrotic, and there was no way to regenerate the cardiac muscle.
However, the patient heard about MAGIC (Myocardial Regeneration and Angiogenesis in Myocardial Infarction) cell therapy, an adjuvant therapy using stem cells, and made a reservation at SNUH. He got to see the doctor on Dec. 5.
The hospital said MAGIC cell therapy could be effective only within a month after myocardial infarction. Still, the hospital could not provide the treatment because it did not receive regulatory approval as new medical technology.
The government is expected to hold a review meeting for new medical technologies later this month.
The patient submitted a petition to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, demanding that the government register the stem cell therapy for myocardial infarction in the list of new medical technologies.
“As I am writing this, the time to receive the stem cell therapy is passing quickly,” the patient said in the petition. “I have about 10 days left now. Please approve the stem cell therapy so that I can live a stable life as a dad of two children, a breadwinner, a son, and a member of our society.”
A research team at SNUH has been studying to prevent heart necrosis after stenting for myocardial infarction. In a study, the team injected a patient's stem cells into the heart muscle and successfully regenerated the heart.
Then, SNUH administered stem cell therapy to over 500 patients. The results showed that the treatment was effective and safe, winning to be named by the government as “limited new medical technology.” The hospital is seeking to obtain permanent approval as new medical technology.
Most prestigious international journals, such as Lancet, have published 16 MAGIC cell therapy-related papers. This means that experts around the world have already verified the therapy, SNUH said.
Kim Hyo-soo, a professor at the Cardiology Department of SNUH, said his research team’s 15 years of study has produced a fruitful result.
“There are patients who need the MAGIC cell therapy, at this moment, but, tragically, we can’t perform it because of the administrative procedure,” he said.
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