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Stem cell study for patients with heart attack damage seeks to regenerate heart muscle

Rush cardiologists are hoping that transplanted stem cells can regenerate damaged heart muscle in those who experience a first heart attack. The study involves an intravenous infusion of adult mesenchymal stem cells from healthy donor bone marrow that might possibly reverse damage to heart tissue.

A unique benefit of the stem cell product is that it is given to patients through a standard IV line. Other therapies require delivery to the site of the disease through catheterization or open surgical procedures, but this one is very simple and easy for the patient.

"A person who has had a single, severe heart attack may survive but can be left with substantial damage to the heart muscle as a result of the blood supply to the heart muscle being cut off during the heart attack. The damaged muscle inhibits the heart's overall ability to pump blood, leading to heart failure," said Rush principal investigator cardiologist Dr. Gary Schaer, head of the Rush Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory. Rush is the only center in Illinois participating in the trial. There are 15 other sites nationwide participating in the study.

He explained that mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) are found in the adult bone marrow and have the potential to develop into mature heart cells and new blood vessels. The MSC cells are derived from normal, healthy adult volunteer bone marrow donors and are not derived from a fetus, embryo or animal. Because they are in an early stage of development, it is believed that they do not trigger an immune response when placed in someone else's body.

Similar to Blood Type O, these MSCs are being used without tissue type matching to a specific patient.

Dr. Schaer says the cells are grown in culture to very high numbers, allowing a single donor's cells to treat thousands of patients. "The cells have the ability to expand, or multiply, under controlled conditions, and the expanded cells have the ability to develop into different types
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Contact: Mary Ann Schultz
mary_ann_schultz@rush.edu
312-942-7816
Rush University Medical Center
20-Apr-2006


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