Studies highlight global risks of vascular disease, probe creative new treatments

hers in Atlanta, GA, are investigating a creative solution--injections of a type of growth factor that stimulates the body to develop new blood vessels. Early evidence suggests the approach is safe and significantly improves exercise capacity.

"This is a promising first step," said Arshed A. Quyyumi, M.D., F.A.C.C., a professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. "It should stimulate further investigation into the use of growth factors as a viable therapy in patients with no other options."

Dr. Quyyumi and his colleagues randomly assigned 45 patients with intermittent claudication to either placebo or one of three doses of granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF), which stimulates the bone marrow to produce endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), which in turn play a key role in the formation of new blood vessels. The three-times-daily treatment continued for two weeks, a slow approach intended to maximize exposure of the leg tissues to the EPCs.

At three-month follow-up, patients treated with GM-CSF were able to exercise nearly a minute longer than at baseline, a statistically significant improvement. Pain-free exercise times were also significantly longer. By comparison, exercise times did not change significantly in the control group.

Dr. Quyyumi will present the full study results at a Late Breaking Clinical Trial session on Sunday, March 12, at 3 p.m.



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