2 years out, patients receiving stem cell therapy show sustained heart function improvement

Public release date: 6-Nov-2012 [ | E-mail | Share ]

Contact: Jill Scoggins jill.scoggins@louisville.edu 502-852-7461 University of Louisville

LOS ANGELES Marked sustained improvement in all patients with zero adverse effects.

For a phase I clinical trial, these results are the Holy Grail. Yet researchers from the University of Louisville and Brigham and Women's Hospital today reported just such almost-never-attained data.

In a Late-Breaking Clinical Trial session at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2012 meeting, Roberto Bolli, M.D., of the University of Louisville and Piero Anversa, M.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, presented data from their groundbreaking research in the use of autologous adult stem cells with patients who had previous heart attacks.

They report that after two years, all patients receiving the stem cell therapy show improvement in heart function, with an overall 12.9 absolute unit increase in left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF), a standard measure of heart function that shows the amount of blood ejected from the left ventricle during a heartbeat. No adverse effects resulting from the therapy were seen. Moreover, MRIs performed on nine patients in the trial showed evidence of myocardial regeneration new heart tissue replacing former dead tissue killed by heart attack.

"The trial shows the feasibility of isolating and expanding autologous stem cells from virtually every patient," said Bolli, who is the Jewish Hospital Heart and Lung Institute Distinguished Chair in Cardiology and director of the Institute for Molecular Cardiology in the Department of Medicine at UofL. "The results suggest that this therapy has a potent, beneficial effect on cardiac function that warrants further study."

"In all patients, cells with high regenerative reserve were obtained and employed therapeutically," said Anversa, professor of Anaesthesia and Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. "Our efforts to carefully characterize the phenotype and growth properties of the cardiac stem cells may have contributed to these initial positive results."

The trial called SCIPIO for Stem Cell Infusion in Patients with Ischemic CardiOmyopathy was a randomized open-label trial of cardiac stem cells (CSCs) in patients who were diagnosed with heart failure following a myocardial infarction and had a LVEF of 40 percent or lower; the normal LVEF is 50 percent or higher.

The investigators harvested the CSCs, referred to as "c-kit positive" cells because they express the c-kit protein on their surface, from 33 patients during coronary artery bypass surgery. The stem cells were purified and processed in Anversa's lab in Boston so that they could multiply. Once an adequate number of stem cells was produced about one million for each patient Bolli's team in Louisville reintroduced them into the region of the patient's heart that had been scarred by the heart attack.

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2 years out, patients receiving stem cell therapy show sustained heart function improvement

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