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Marrow cells don’t seem to help heart

Rating

5 Star

Marrow cells don’t seem to help heart

Our Review Summary

This is a well-written and accurate story about an experimental study to give the drug Neupogen to heart attack patients to cause bone marrow stem cells to rush into the bloodstream in an attempt to regenerate the heart. The story makes clear that the experiment showed no positive effect. Context is provided so that readers can understand where this new study fits into what was already known and not known. Complex outcomes of the intervention (ejection fraction, restenosis, left ventricular infarct size) are explained clearly and simply. The intervention itself was accurately described without hyperbole or hype. It is commendable for providing this level of detail on a negative trial. Side effects of the drug (mostly mild to moderate bone pain) were not noted. The story fits much pertinent information into a 540-word story.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

The treatment isn’t available to the general population specifically for this use, so it seems fine that the cost of the drug isn’t noted.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

No estimate was provided, but differences in outcomes were not significant. It seems appropriate to not quantify these results.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The story cites several researchers saying the experiment caused no harms, but there is no comment on bone pain.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Satisfactory

The story describes this randomized study as the “largest, most rigorous test of the theory that stem cells can be recruited to the site of heart injury.” It also mentions prior studies and describes them as “few, small and inconclusive.”

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

There is no apparent disease-mongering in the story.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Satisfactory

Mentions sources of information for article and interviews with other researchers. Does not mention funding.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Applicable

Since the story is about an experimental attempt to regenerate heart muscle, there are no good treatment options to discuss. The story did allude to fetal stem cells, although not explicitly.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The story makes clear that the drug is “widely used” for another use — “to spur replacement of white blood cells after cancer chemotherapy.”

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story makes it clear that this is early research — “part of an explosion in research into the use of stem cells – particularly non-controversial adult stem cells – for cardiac repair.” And it puts into the context of other studies:
“Previously, a few small, inconclusive studies suggested that simply mobilizing bone marrow stem cells after a heart attack could be beneficial, presumably because the cells received signals to home in on the injured organ and help heal it.”

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

There is no evidence that this story relied solely or largely on a news release.

Total Score: 8 of 8 Satisfactory

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