National funding goes to Johns Hopkins to advance research on stem cell therapies for heart attack

Heart specialists at Johns Hopkins Heart Institute have been awarded more than $12 million from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to study how stem cell therapies can be used to treat hearts damaged by heart attack or heart failure.

The five-year NHLBI funding is part of new federal program focused on cell-based therapies that could be ready for clinical trials testing within two years, the agency says. Hopkins is one of only three centers initially funded as a Specialized Center for Cell-Based Therapy for Heart, Lung and Blood Diseases (SCCT), and is the only center dedicated to new therapies for heart problems.

"This special grant strengthens the federal government's commitment to advanced medical research in the United States and it shapes the next chapter on Hopkins' historic role in cardiology," says Eduardo Marbn, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chief of cardiology at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and its Heart Institute.

"The era of cardiac surgery was pioneered at Hopkins with the 'blue-baby' operation in the 1940s, and now we have the honor of continuing in this tradition by harnessing the next generation of therapies based on stem cells," he adds.

More than 30 Hopkins faculty and staff, including cardiologists, physiologists, radiology technicians and research nurses will be involved in the SCCT initiative, which will focus on two major projects. One of the five-year projects has already begun clinical trials. The second project continues with preclinical animal and laboratory research, required by the Food and Drug Administration before new therapies can be approved for initial testing.

The laboratory research group will be led by Marbn, whose team will study the potential of using a patient's own cardiac stem cells to repair heart tissue soon after a heart attack, or to regenerate weakened muscle resulting from heart failure, perhaps averting the need for heart transplants

Contact: David March
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

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