New stem cell research could bring choices to heart patients

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Dr. Nabil Dib

They're called "no-option patients."

They've endured angioplasty, stent procedures, bypasses and a long line of medications. None of the treatments has fixed the plaque-plugged coronary arteries that trigger angina, starve the heart of blood and force people to hunch in pain after walking twoblocks.

Adult stem cell research at an Oxnard hospital is aimed at giving themchoices.

"A patient who has no hope will have some hope," said Dr. Nabil Dib, a world-renowned researcher partnering with St. John's Regional Medical Center. "It's a hope for potential therapy that will revise the way we treat cardiovasculardisease."

Stem cells are blank cells that function as the body's building blocks. They are able to grow into many different kinds of cells, including blood, muscle and tissue. Dib's work involves adult stem cells harvested from his patients, as opposed to stem cells that come from embryos and trigger ethicaldebates.

In a clinical trial starting at St. John's and 49 other hospitals across the country, the adult stem cells will be isolated and used to create new blood vessels. It's a way of manipulating the body into building new pathways for blood flow impeded by barricadedarteries.

"We're doing like a bypass a biological bypass," Dibsaid.

The trial is part of a genre of research aimed at using the body's own resources to repair the heart. It could reduce consequences ranging from heart transplants and hospitalizations to heart failure anddeath.

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New stem cell research could bring choices to heart patients

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