A team of Georgia researchers has launched a medical initiative to determine whether patients with debilitating heart failure can benefit from having their own stem cells injected into their ailing heart muscles.
The incurable condition — known as ischemic dilated cardiomyopathy — results from heart attacks that damage the organ and from compromised blood flow to the heart muscle.
"We want to know if stem cell therapy is an option for patients who have essentially run out of options," said Adam Berman, M.D., an electrophysiologist at the Medical College of Georgia and director of Cardiac Arrhythmia Ablation Services at Georgia Regents Health System, in a report on the project by Medical Xpress
. "It's a very exciting potential therapy, and these studies are designed to see if it works to help these patients."
The multi-site study involves removing stem cells from the bone marrow of a small number of patients, then injecting them into multiple weak points in the heart to improve the blood flow and function of the muscle.
Half of the study participants will receive the stem cell treatment —called ixmyelocel-T — and the remainder an inactive saline placebo. Researchers will follow all participants for 12 months to assess heart function and quality of life.
Dr. Berman said he hopes stem cell therapy may one day be a part of early intervention to help keep heart failure from progressing to an advanced, debilitating state.
"We hope this is the future," he said.
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