Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Stem cells showing success for heart attacks

A stem cell therapy that has effectively treated heart attacks in pigs is now being tested in humans.

A study from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that in just two months, stem cells harvested from a pig's bone marrow and injected into a damaged heart restored heart function and repaired damaged heart muscle by 50% to 75%.

Two people are now enrolled at Johns Hopkins in a Phase I clinical trial designed to test the safety of injecting adult stem cells at varying doses into people with a recent heart attack. The trial, from which results are expected in mid-2006, will in total involve 48 people at several sites in the US.

"Ultimately, the goal is to develop a widely applicable treatment to repair and reverse the damage done to heart muscle that has been infarcted, or destroyed, after losing its blood supply," says cardiologist Joshua Hare, senior author of the study and lead trial investigator.

"There is reason for optimism about these findings, possibly leading to a first-ever cure for heart attack in humans," he says. "If a treatment can be found for the damage done by a heart attack to heart muscle, then there is the potential to forestall the serious complications that traditionally result from a heart attack, including disturbances of heart rhythm that can lead to sudden cardiac death, and decreased muscle pumping function that can lead to congestive heart failure."

The Hopkins findings were first presented last fall at the 2004 Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association and will be published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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