Cell Therapy Improves Damaged Heart In Study
March 27, 2012

Cell Therapy Improves Damaged Heart In Study

According to a new study, using a patient's own bone marrow may help repair damaged areas of the heart caused by heart failure.

Researchers found that left ventricular ejection fraction increased by 2.7 percent in patients who received stem cell therapy.

The study, which was presented at the American College of Cardiology's 61st Annual Scientific Session, revealed that the improvement in ejection fraction correlated with the number of CD34+ and CD133+ cells in the bone marrow.

"This is the kind of information we need in order to move forward with the clinical use of stem cell therapy," Emerson Perin, MD, PhD, director of clinical research for cardiovascular medicine at the Texas Heart Institute and the study's lead investigator, said at the event.

The study included 92 patients who were randomly selected to receive stem cell treatment or placebo.  The patients all had chronic ischemic heart disease and an ejection fraction of less than 45 percent along with heart failure.

Doctors placed a catheter in the heart's left ventricle to inject 3 ccs, or 100 million stem cells, into an average of 15 sites of the stem cell patients' hearts.

The doctors used electromechanical mapping of the heart to measure the voltage in areas of the heart muscle and create a real-time image of the heart.

"With this mapping procedure, we have a roadmap to the heart muscle," said Dr. Perin. "We're very careful about where we inject the cells; electromechanical mapping allows us to target the cell injections to viable areas of the heart."

The trial was designed to determine whether left ventricular end systolic volume and myocardial oxygen consumption improved in patients who received stem cell treatment.

The team also wanted to see if nuclear scans of the heart showed a change in perfusion defects in patients who received the treatment.

The researchers found that those patients with more progenitor cell types had much better improvement with ejection fraction, and demonstrated a linear relationship between the number of CD34+ cells and the improvement in ejection fraction.

"As a result, these findings are revealing the importance of certain cell types that are delivered and that modifying the cells may create more robust cells capable of achieving better results in future studies," study's co-investigator Jay Traverse, MD, an interventionalist cardiologist at the Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, said in a press release.

The study will be published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.