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‘Smart’ Stem Cells Show Promise in Heart Failure Patients

First-in-humans study introduces next-generation cell therapy (Apr. 10)

Translating a Mayo Clinic discovery, a European team has demonstrated that therapy with cardiopoietic (cardiogenically instructed) or “smart” stem cells can improve heart health for people with heart failure. This is the first application in patients of lineage-guided stem cells for targeted regeneration of a failing organ, paving the way to the development of next-generation regenerative medicine solutions, the researchers say. Results of the clinical trial were published online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The multicenter, randomized Cardiopoietic Stem Cell Therapy in Heart Failure (C-CURE) trial involved heart failure patients in Belgium, Switzerland, and Serbia. Patients in the control group received standard care for heart failure in accordance with established guidelines. Patients in the cell therapy arm received, in addition to standard care, cardiopoietic stem cells. In this process, bone marrow was harvested from the top of the patient’s hip, and isolated stem cells were treated with a protein cocktail to replicate natural cues of heart development. Derived cardiopoietic stem cells were then injected into the patient’s heart.

All of the patients in the stem cell treatment group improved. Heart pumping function improved in each patient within 6 months after cardiopoietic stem cell treatment. In addition, patients experienced improved fitness and were able to walk longer distances than before stem cell therapy.

In an accompanying editorial, Charles Murry, MD, PhD, and his colleagues at the University of Washington, Seattle, said: “Six months after treatment, the cell therapy group had a 7% absolute improvement in EF [ejection fraction] over baseline, versus a non-significant change in the control group. This improvement in EF is dramatic, particularly given the duration between the ischemic injury and cell therapy. It compares favorably with our most potent therapies in heart failure.”

Source: Mayo Clinic; April 10, 2013.

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