Heart Stem Cells and LVAD may Avoid Transplants

August 23, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Statistics from the Department of Health and Human Services reveal that an average of 18 people dies waiting for organ transplants each day. There are about 2,500 hearts available and a waiting list of about 100,000 patients in need. Researchers at the University of Minnesota hope to bridge that gap.

"I couldn't walk, or breathe, or eat," congestive heart failure patient Allan Isaacs said. That was life with congestive heart failure for 71-year-old Isaacs, but after a left ventricular assist device was implanted into his chest, Allan's life got moving again.

Allan says he now does, "Fifteen minutes on the elliptical and about 30 minutes on the treadmill."

The LVAD helps pump oxygen rich blood throughout the body, but Allan's recovery may also have to do with the fact that his treatment may have included injections of his own bone marrow stem cells. Allan's taking part in a leading edge blind study at the University of Minnesota's Medical Center.

"We isolate the stem cells and when they go for surgery we inject those cells on the heart wall," Ganesh Raveendran, MD, MS, Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at the University of Minnesota Medical Center said.

One-third of the patients receive a placebo, the rest get ten injections of stem cells into their hearts. Muscle tissue is then analyzed to, "see whether these cells have made any meaningful change, whether the cells have transformed into cardiac muscle," Dr. Raveendran said. In many cases an LVAD is a bridge to transplant, but researchers and Allan hope this stem cell therapy could eliminate that need.

"Now, I can do whatever I feel like doing," Allan said.

The research team at the University of Minnesota Medical Center hopes to wrap up the study by end of this year and collaborate on a multicenter study involving seven medical centers throughout the nation.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Ganesh Raveendran, MD, MS Director, Section of Interventional Cardiology & Cardiovascular Fellowship Program University of Minnesota Medical School (612) 625-7924 ravee001@umn.edu


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