Researchers at Allegheny General Hospital have begun a clinical trial to explore the safety and effectiveness of an adult stem cell therapy for heart attacks. AGH is 1 of 38 hospitals across the country involved in the study using stem cells from the bone marrow of healthy adult donors. Dr. Robert Biederman is the Director of AGH's Cardiovascular MRI Center and the hospital's
principal investigator for this study.
Biederman says they are hoping the treatment reduces the enlargement of the heart following the attack....
"That has been one of the strongest predictors of outcome, meaning hospitalization, death and requirement of other interventions. We're hoping that it improves the heart function. If we can interfere with the natural decrease in function after the heart attack, that would be very advisable."
Dr. Biederman says they also want to reduce the heart scarring, the damage to the heart muscle. He says the stem cell treatment will be given 3 to 7 days after the patient, who has a modest heart attack, undergoes angioplasty to open the blocked vessel and receives the traditional medicines.
He says it's a one time I-V infusion through the arm and doesn't require a catheterization nor any needles into the heart itself for infusions.
A 53 year old Scott Township woman became the first patient in the study at AGH and Biederman says she is doing very well. She will have follow up MRI's to check for heart function and scarring at 3, 6 and 12 months.
Biederman says this may be a paradigm change in the treatment of heart attack patients. He says it's possible the FDA could approve the treatment in 2 to 2 and a half years.