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UM Researcher Releases Findings on Stem-Cell Based Treatment for Heart Attacks

MIAMI- Dramatic findings have been released by a University of Miami Miller School of Medicine researcher on the first human clinical trial to test a stem-cell based treatment for heart attack patients. The phase one trial was designed to determine the safety and efficacy of infusing adult human mesenchymal stems cells intravenously in patients within days of a myocardial infarction, or heart attack, to lessen damage to the heart muscle.

Fifty-three patients, who had suffered a first heart attack within one to ten days, were enrolled at ten medical centers across the United States beginning in February 2005. In the trial, sponsored by Osiris Therapeutics of Baltimore, Maryland which provided the cells, patients were randomized to one of three doses of stem cells, and each dose was compared with placebo. The occurrence of treatment-related serious adverse events was evaluated at six months, and efficacy was assessed using echocardiography.

“Over the six month follow-up period the stem cell treated patients had lower rates of side effects such as cardiac arrhythmias, and they had significant improvements in heart, lung and global function,” said Joshua Hare, M.D., professor of medicine, director of the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute at the Miller School of Medicine, and lead author and principal investigator for the entire study. “Echocardiography showed improved heart function, particularly in those patients with large amounts of cardiac damage.”

The study findings were presented today at the American College of Cardiology’s Innovation in Intervention: i2Summit being held in New Orleans.

“This trial offers a distinct advancement in the field of stem cell-based treatments by providing safety and efficacy data for a unique and promising type of stem cell to treat cardiac damage,” said Dr. Hare. “It’s important to note that this study is very early, and, as in other disease categories, we must expand trials to determine the real world application of stem cell therapy to fight heart disease.”

As a cell-based therapy, mesenchymal stem cells have a number of unique advantages: they can be taken from genetically distinct donors, are easy to prepare, and have a tendency to collect within injured areas. In animal models, this type of stem cell not only homes to regions of cardiac damage, but reduces the infarct size and improves ejection function – the portion of blood that is punted out of the heart as a result of a heartbeat, and a primary indicator of the heart’s health.

This year an estimated 700,000 Americans will suffer a heart attack, and despite the best care many will go on to develop congestive heart failure from the muscle damage caused by the heart attack. The promise of stem cell therapy in reversing or preventing that damage provides a significant benefit in an area of unmet medical need.

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Joshua M. Hare, M.D.
Director,
Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute

Post Doctoral Fellows:
Applications are requested from scientists working in all areas of stem cell biology, including adult and embryonic stem cells.

Candidates should have a PhD with a background in stem cell biology and a demonstrated ability to conduct independent research.

Contact:
Rene Lopez
HR Manager for Cardiology
305-243-7995
Miller School of Medicine