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Testing of stem-cell treatment on hearts gets OK

Release date: 3/20/2010

Houston cardiologists will soon begin injecting stem cells directly into damaged heartswith U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to test the innovative treatment, based on the remarkable ability of human stem cells to grow into almost any tissue.

The tide has turned!!! The wave is coming!!!
Adult stem cell treatment acceptance in the USA is beginning to gain momentum.  Now...it will be 7-10 yrs before treatments are available to the public here, if that indeed happens AND if the pharma companies don't try to turn stem cells into drugs.  Today, the only place to find stem cell treatments is by filling out this form - http://repairstemcells.org/Treatment/Treatment-Request.aspx?d=Heart%20Disease ..but the important point is that the US is finally moving in the right direction and soon everyone will know that adult stem cells are safe and have amazing restorative and regenerative capabilities. -dg

Testing of stem-cell treatment on hearts gets OK

By ERIC BERGER Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle Medical Writer
March 23, 2004, 7:50PM
With the goal of rejuvenating their sickest patients and moving them from a bed back to normal life, Houston cardiologists will soon begin injecting stem cells directly into damaged hearts.  Scientists from the Texas Heart Institute and St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital announced Tuesday they have received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to test the innovative treatment, based on the remarkable ability of human stem cells to grow into almost any tissue.
The U.S. study follows promising research conducted by the researchers in 14 Brazilian patients.
"One thing is very clear, the injected stem cells clearly improved the blood flow to the heart," said Dr. James T. Willerson, director of cardiology research at the heart institute and chief of cardiology at St. Luke's.

The study's results will affect the most desperate group of heart patients.  People with advanced heart failure in the United States have a 30 to 50 percent chance of dying within a year. Most have exhausted all other treatments and are left waiting for a heart transplant or mechanical devices to improve the pumping of their hearts.
"These are very, very sick people," said Dr. Emerson Perin, director of New Interventional Cardiovascular Technology at the heart Institute and St. Luke's. "There really is nothing else to do right now with these patients when they reach the end of the road."

All of the 14 Brazilian patients showed some sign of improvement in their heart function after receiving stem cell injections, researchers said, including the ability of the heart muscle to pump blood. Several have even begun jogging,
Willerson said.

Although it is a very small sample of patients, just two have died in the nearly two years of monitoring, when, without treatment, half or more might have died.

The first phase of the Houston trial, with six patients, will begin almost immediately, the researchers said. Eventually 20 patients will be given stem cell injections and another 10 will receive a similar procedure but no injections. None of the participants will know if they have received the stem cell therapy. After six months, those patients who don't get the stem cells will have the option of receiving the therapy.

Stem cells -- heralded because of their chimerical ability to grown into almost any cell type in the human body -- hold much promise in medicine.

Use of embryonic stem cells, potentially more versatile but controversial, is limited by the federal government because they come from embryos fertilized in vitro.  (and the fact they they generate tumors and require immunosuppressive drugs - dg)

For this study, the Houston group believes it can accomplish its goal with adult stem cells, so named because they are taken from grown humans. (Partially true...Besides those taken from grown adults, adult stem cells also include stem cells from umbilical cord, placenta, amniotic fluid, etc. In fact, adult stem cells include all of the stem cell sources I know of besides embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells. Fetal stem cells are something of a borderline case. - dg)

During a heart attack, blood flow to the heart is blocked, causing permanent muscle damage.  Rather than propping up the heart with medications or implantable pumps, Willerson and his team, as well as others studying stem cell heart therapy, hope to regrow muscle tissue. Willlerson speculates this might be happening in the Brazilian patients, but it will take more research to know for sure.

There is some evidence, however, that the Brazilian patients' improvement may not have come from new heart muscle cell, but from new blood vessel growth.  This week, two major articles published in the journal Nature reported that mouse bone marrow stem cells injected into the damaged hearts of mice died within 30 days.  "Based on our work it seems unlikely that stem cells would grow new muscle tissue in humans," said Dr. Charles Murry, an associate professor of pathology at the University of Washington and author of one of the papers. "But it might help grow new blood vessels."
If the stem cells injected into the heart do grow new blood vessels, perhaps by secreting proteins or growth factors, the increased blood flow to the heart could improve performance by preserving living cells near the damaged tissue, Murry said.
Willerson's group has conducted its own trials of stem cells in mice and concluded it is possible to grow heart muscle cells.
In his animal trials, Willerson injected a different type of stem cell using a different procedure, and they did grow some new heart tissue.
"The techniques were very different," he said of his work and the Nature studies.  Patients in the Houston study will undergo magnetic resonance imaging, blood tests and other diagnostic measures to determine how well the procedure works, and if there is improvement, why exactly the patients' hearts are functioning better.
Because of the rigorous follow-up needed for this initial study, which is expected to generate considerable interest among advanced heart disease patients, candidates will be limited to those who live in the greater Houston area.

Here is more information on stem cell treatment of heart disease - http://repairstemcell.wordpress.com/heart-disease-treatment/ - dg

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