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Stem Cell Treatment Saves Heart Patients

Thursday, 06 December 2012 10:23 AM

Someday soon permanent cures for diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and paralysis will be found through breakthroughs in regenerative medicine. That was the hopeful message this week at the World Stem Cell Summit, which wrapped up its three-day meeting in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Wednesday.
The conference featured doctors and the patients they’ve treated with cutting-edge techniques that were the stuff of dreams only a few years ago.
“Stem cell research saved my life,” said Barry Brown, 42, a retired U.S. Army sergeant from Miami, whose heart was failing due to damage from a heart attack. Brown received an injection of his own stem cells during cardiac bypass surgery four years ago as a participant in a clinical study. On the third anniversary of his operation, Brown ran a half-marathon.
“I had just been hoping that, with the treatment, I could get back to where I was before. I never imagined that I would run a half-marathon,” said Brown, adding, “If I hadn’t gotten this treatment, I would have needed a heart transplant.”
The conference brought together more than 1,200 health professionals from 41 counties to share their research on a wide range of ailments ranging from Alzheimer’s disease to stroke. They also met with regulators, and business leaders, in order to forge the link from laboratory research to actual patient treatment.
“We assembled all of the stakeholders, including scientists, clinicians, policy makers, philanthropists, legal experts, patient advocates, industry leaders, and regulators. They all came to discuss solutions and forge collaborations,” said Bernard Siegel, of the Genetics Policy Institute, which holds the annual conference. The overall goal is to take progress from the laboratory to the patients who need it. “What good is it if you can cure diabetes in a mouse when it will take 30 years to treat a patient?” he noted.
Said Joshua Hare, M.D., director of the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute (ISCI) at the University of Miami Miller School: “The field of regenerative medicine has blossomed in the last eight-to-ten years.” In a recent study, he showed that stem cells taken from either the bone marrow of patients or from donors could be used to repair damaged hearts. In fact, the cells were shown over time to reduce the amount of damaged tissue by 33 percent, overturning a long-held medical belief that damaged cardiac tissue is not repairable.
Camillo Ricordi, M.D., scientific director of the Diabetes Research Institute, said that his researchers are on the cusp of finding cures for diabetes. “Our mission is to find cures for diabetes, not just treatments,” said Dr. Ricordi. He presented research showing that stem cells can be reprogrammed within patients to produce insulin. “Our research is on the way to becoming approved treatments,” he said.

© HealthDay

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Stem cell treatments are saving heart patients and they bring the promise to cure diabetes and paralysis, according to doctors meeting at the World Stem Cell Summit.
Thursday, 06 December 2012 10:23 AM
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