Can You Use Your Own Stem Cells to Treat Heart Failure?

November 17, 2008
Todd Kunkler

Researchers at the Methodist Hospital in Houston, TX; Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, TX; and The University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City, UT, are enrolling patients in a new clinical trial designed to help find the answer to that question.

Researchers at the Methodist Hospital in Houston, TX; Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, TX; and The University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City, UT, are enrolling patients in a new clinical trial designed to help find the answer to that question.

The Cardiac Repair Cell Treatment of Patients with Dilated Cardiomyopathy (IMPACT-DCM) study (http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00765518) is designed, according to a news release from the University of Utah Health Sciences (http://healthcare.utah.edu/publicaffairs/news/current/IMPACT%20Trial_Patel.html), to study the feasibility of using a patient’s own stem cells to treat ischemic and non-ischemic heart failure. The one-year trial will “look at the safety of injecting Cardiac Repair Cells (CRC) and their ability to improve heart function.”

“This is the first trial of its kind in the United States, providing patients who have limited to no other options with a viable treatment,” said Amit N. Patel, MD, national principal investigator for the IMPACT-DCM trial and director of cardiovascular regenerative medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine. “By using a patient’s own cells, we eliminate the concern of rejection and the need for potentially harmful immunosuppressive drugs. We hope these cells will help with new blood vessels and support the heart muscle in order to improve the heart’s function, thereby greatly improving the patient’s quality of life.”

According to the University of Utah Health Sciences news release, trial participants will have a small amount of their own bone marrow cells extracted and grown in a culture “to expand the number of cells that will help the heart muscle and improve blood flow.” Two weeks later, the patient’s stem cells will be injected directly into the left ventricle of the heart during a minimally invasive surgery.

To participate in this trial, patients must meet a variety of inclusion criteria (listed at the ClincialTrials.gov site linked to above), including a diagnosis of ischemic or non-ischemic DCM according to World Health Organization criteria and/or symptomatic heart failure in NYHA functional class III or IV. Exclusion criteria for this trial (including severe primary valvular insufficiency, known history of primary pulmonary hypertension, and unstable angina) are also listed at the site.