PARIS After demonstrating in 1998 that muscle cells taken from a rabbit's leg could replace severely damaged heart muscle cells in the animals, Duke University Medical Center researchers plan to see whether their novel approach will work in humans with damaged hearts.
Safety trials set begin soon at the University Hospital Dykzigt in Rotterdam will be using an approach pioneered by Duke molecular biologist and heart researcher Doris Taylor. Another trial using a different delivery approach is underway at Hospital Bichat in Paris. Taylor said it is likely that similar human trials could begin later this year at Duke and elsewhere in the United States.
In Taylor's approach, muscle cells (myoblasts) are taken from the leg, grown in significant quantities outside the body and then returned to damaged areas of the heart, in this case through a catheter. In all animal models to date, the injected cells have behaved just like heart muscle cells and improved cardiac function.
Taylor outlined the procedure in a "state-of-the-technology" address prepared for delivery Friday at the annual Paris Course on Revascularization, where more than 10,000 European clinicians discussed the latest in cell-based treatments for heart disease. Taylor chronicled how quickly her findings in the laboratory are being translated into clinical trials in humans and how this approach has a major head-start over the latest scientific rage, which uses stem cells to repair ailing hearts in animals. "Stem cell technology today is where we were with myoblasts five years ago," Taylor said. "While stem cells have an exciting future, there are many challenges to be overcome."
The main differences between the two sources of cells involve quantity and behavior of the cells. Myoblasts can be grown in practically limitless quantities, while there are only finite amounts of stem cells in a potential patient. It is important that cells be taken from the individual whose heart is bei
Contact: Richard Merritt
Duke University Medical Center