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Muscle cell transplants repair damaged heart tissue

CHICAGO, Nov. 17 Researchers safely transplanted 16 patients' skeletal muscle cells into their own severely damaged hearts in the first human testing in the United States, according to a study reported today at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2002.

"We have been able to regenerate dead heart muscle, or scar tissue, in the area of heart attack without increasing risk of death," says lead author Nabil Dib, M.D., director of cardiovascular research at the Arizona Heart Institute in Phoenix. "Our findings will allow us to move forward with testing if the procedure can improve the contractility of the heart."

The interim results indicate the procedure is safe and feasible, he says.

When patients suffer a heart attack, scar tissue develops, resulting in a decrease in heart contractility its ability to compress and force blood through its chambers. Since heart cells can't repair themselves, this damage is irreversible and eventually results in heart failure.

Researchers conducted the multi-center trial, overseen by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in patients who had suffered heart attacks or heart failure and whose hearts had reduced pumping ability evidenced by left-ventricular ejection fraction (EF) less than 30 percent. EF measures the quantity of blood pumped from the heart with each beat. A healthy heart pumps out a little more than half the heart's volume of blood with each beat for an EF of 55 percent or higher.

Eleven patients were undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) and five were having a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implanted. An LVAD helps a failing heart until a donor heart becomes available for transplant.

The patients' myoblasts cells (immature cells that become muscle cells) were extracted from thigh muscle. Large quantities of the cells were grown in the laboratory for three to four weeks using a controlled cell expansion manufacturing process. During the surg
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Contact: Carole Bullock
carole.bullock@heart.org
214-706-1279
American Heart Association
17-Nov-2002


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