Gorleston man pins hopes on stem cell trials

A GORLESTON man who has suffered from a serious heart condition for 11 years is taking part in stem cell trials aimed at finding a new treatment for the disease.

Paul Griffin, aged 63, from Upper Cliff Road, is one of 60 volunteers taking part in the trials at the London Chest Hospital to see if people’s stem cells from their own bone marrow can be used to improve their heart function.

Paul has the heart muscle disease dilated cardiomyopathy, which causes the heart to enlarge and pump less efficiently.

The condition, which affects people of all ages including babies, is the main reason for heart transplants.

All the patients in the trial have the same disease.

Half will be given a growth factor drug to stimulate the production of their own stem cells and make them spill over into the bloodstream.

Others will have their own stem cells injected into their major coronary artery. But as a control measure, only 15 of the second group will get the stem cells while others get a saline solution.

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Paul, a retired business advisor, is in the second group and will not know if he is getting the stem cells or the saline solution.

He said: “I am, of course, somewhat nervous venturing into the unknown and have never been particularly fond of needles. But my family have been very supportive.

“I fit the criteria for the trial and have the time to help. If it doesn’t help me directly, it should help others.

“If a successful stem cell therapy can be devised, heart transplants and all the problems that go with them may become obsolete.

“It could also save the NHS millions of pounds and help millions of people throughout the world to live longer and healthier lives.”

Paul is due to go into the London hospital for a week from February 22 to have the treatment. He will then be regularly followed up to see if his symptoms improve.

He is a member of the Cardiomyopathy Association, a charity that provides information and support to affected families, for eight years.

For more information about Cardiomyopathy, contact the Cardiomyopathy Association on freephone 0800 0181 024, see the website www.cardiomyopathy.org or email info@cardiomyopathy.org.