November 18, 2008

Stem cells to be used in heart trial

U.S. researchers say they are seeking people for a trial to test the safety of using patients' own stem cells to repair their damaged hearts.

Half of the participants will be ischemic heart disease patients with blood flow problems due to arterial disease and the other half will have the non-ischemic form caused by an enlarged heart muscle. All will have limited or no other treatment options.

The one-year, randomized and controlled study -- Phase II Cardiac Repair Cell Treatment of Patients with Dilated Cardiomyopathy -- will draw 40 patients' own bone marrow cells to provide cardiac repair cells that will be increased in a culture. The repair cells will then be directly injected into the left ventricle of the heart.

The injection will use a minimally invasive surgery developed by Dr. Amit Patel of the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City, the principal investigator.

By using a patient's own cells, we eliminate the concern of rejection and the need for potentially harmful immunosuppressive drugs, Patel said in a statement. We hope these cells will help with new blood vessels and support the heart muscle in order to improve the heart's function, thereby greatly improving the patient's quality of life.