Stem cell therapy improves heart function 2 years after heart attack

Posted: November 7, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Washington, November 7 (ANI): Stem cell therapy improves heart function in patients who had previous heart attacks, according to researchers from the University of Louisville and Brigham and Women's Hospital.

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," he stated.

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.

The researchers reported that in the 20 patients receiving CSCs, LVEF increased from 29 percent to 36 percent at four months following infusion. None of the 13 control patients in the trial received CSCs and this group showed, on average, no improvement.

The beneficial effect of the CSCs persisted and became progressively greater at the one- and two-year mark following infusion. At the one-year mark following infusion, LVEF increased by 8.1 percent, and at the two-year mark, by 12.9 percent.

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Stem cell therapy improves heart function 2 years after heart attack

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