Dear Friend of CelBank,
Adult stem cells are the key to new heart disease treatments
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 610,000 Americans die of some form of heart disease and approximately 735,000 people in the U.S. have a heart attack each year. Currently, there are medications and implantable devices to treat heart rate and rhythm problems and bypass surgery and stent implantation to help people whose cardiac arteries are blocked, but while these treatments can be effective, they do not treat the underlying damage that a heart attack or heart failure cause to the heart itself.
Researchers at several medical centers of excellence around the country, including the Mayo Clinic's Center for Regenerative Medicine and the Regenerative Medicine Clinic at Cedars-Sinai, are involved in clinical trials to explore how adult stem cells can open new paths to safe, effective treatments that repair the physical damage that cardiovascular disease causes to the heart.
Repairing the damaged heart
Heart attacks and other types of cardiovascular disease damage and scar the heart muscle and make the heart unable to function properly. Researchers, including Atta Behfar, MD, PhD, a cardiovascular researcher at Mayo Clinic, discovered that adult stem cells from bone marrow can be transformed into cardiac stem cells through a special process of conditioning. As part of randomized, controlled phase I and phase II clinical trials conducted in Europe, about 1 billion conditioned stem cells were injected into the heart wall of patients who were diagnosed with heart failure as a result of a heart attack. The trials not only showed that the procedure was safe and feasible, but also, six months after treatment, the patients who received the conditioned cardiopoietic stem cells had increased blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body, decreased heart volume (heart enlargement is an indicator of heart failure), and were able to walk longer distances than they could before they underwent the treatment. In contrast, patients in the control group who did not receive the stem cell treatment showed no improvement or experienced worsening heart failure. Dr. Behfar and his colleagues are now starting a phase III clinical trial of the treatment in the U.S.
Other researchers, including Timothy Henry, MD, director of Cardiology at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, and Eduardo Marbán, M.D., PhD, are developing stem cell treatments that use cardiac stem cells biopsied from a heart failure patient's healthy heart tissue. In the phase I clinical trial, the harvested cells were grown outside the body until there were approximately 25 million cardiac cells. These were injected into the damaged tissue in the patient's heart. After six months, the scar tissue of the patients who received the stem cell treatment had become 30 to 47 percent smaller and they grew 600 million new heart cells, which is equivalent to 60 percent of the cells killed off during a heart attack.
A new clinical trial working with a similar concept is currently enrolling patients. In this study, patients will receive specially treated cardiac stem cells from donors. The hope is to develop what are called “off the shelf” cardiac stem cell treatments so that when a patient comes into the ED during a heart attack, physicians can use this treatment approach to repair the heart. Other biotech researchers are working on developing stem cell patches that can be placed over damaged heart tissue and using a person's own stem cells to help new, healthy tissue to grow.
As more adult stem cell treatments for heart disease are developed and approved by the FDA, the goal of treatment will shift from simply managing symptoms and lowering the risk of advancing heart disease to helping the heart repair itself and return to normal functioning.
Stem Cell therapy for cardiovascular repair is making significant progress in the United States. To learn more about stem cell therapies and how you can bank your own stem cells or those of a family member or friend call us at 888-618-6398 or click here and we'll give you a call.
Best Wishes for a Healthy Future,
Dennis O'Brien, Chief Commercial Officer
Next Healthcare Inc.