Your own stem cells can treat heart disease
Transplanting people's own stem cells into heart lessens
pain, improves ability to walk
CHICAGO --- The largest national stem cell study for heart disease showed the
first evidence that transplanting a potent form of adult stem cells into the
heart muscle of subjects with severe angina results in less pain and an improved
ability to walk. The transplant subjects also experienced fewer deaths than
those who didn't receive stem cells.
In the 12-month Phase II, double-blind trial, subjects' own purified stem
cells, called CD34+ cells, were injected into their hearts in an effort to spur
the growth of small blood vessels that make up the microcirculation of the heart
muscle. Researchers believe the loss of these blood vessels contributes to the
pain of chronic, severe angina.
"This is the first study to show significant benefit in pain reduction and
improved exercise capacity in this population with very advanced heart disease,"
said principal investigator Douglas Losordo, M.D., the Eileen M. Foell Professor
of Heart Research at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and
a cardiologist and director of the program in cardiovascular regenerative
medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, the lead site of the study.
Losordo, also director of the Feinberg Cardiovascular Research Institute,
said this study provides the first evidence that a person's own stem cells can
be used as a treatment for their heart disease. He cautioned, however, that the
findings of the 25-site trial with 167 subjects, require verification in a
larger, Phase III study.
He presented his findings Nov. 17 at the American Heart Association
Scientific Sessions 2009.
Out of the estimated 1 million people in the U.S. who suffer from chronic,
severe angina -- chest pain due to blocked arteries -- about 300,000 cannot be
helped by any traditional medical treatment such as angioplasty, bypass surgery
or stents. This is called intractable or severe angina, the severity of which is
designated by classes. The subjects in Losordo's study were class 3 or 4,
meaning they had chest pain from normal to minimal activities, such as from
brushing their teeth or even resting.
The stem cell transplant is the first therapy to produce an improvement in
severe angina subjects' ability to walk on a treadmill. Twelve months after the
procedure, the transplant subjects were able to double their improvement on a
treadmill compared to the placebo group. It also took twice as long until they
experienced angina pain on a treadmill compared to the placebo group, and, when
they felt pain, it went away faster with rest. In addition, they had fewer
overall episodes of chest pain in their daily lives.
In the trial, the CD34+ cells were injected into 10 locations in the heart
muscle. A sophisticated electromechanical mapping technology identifies where
the heart muscle is alive but not functioning, because it is not receiving
enough blood supply.
The study was supported by Baxter Healthcare Corporation. Losordo formerly
was a paid consultant to Baxter.Your own stem cells can treat heart disease
Contact: Marla Paulmarlafirstname.lastname@example.org