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Stem Cells Restore Heart Function in Pigs

Trials in heart attack patients to begin soon, researchers say

TUESDAY, July 26, 2005 (HealthDayNews) -- Researchers report the successful use of stem cells to treat heart attack tissue damage in pigs -- a breakthrough that is paving the way for human trials.

"There is reason for optimism about these findings, possibly leading to a first-ever cure for heart attack in humans," senior author Dr. Joshua Hare, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, said in a prepared statement.

"Ultimately," he said, "the goal is to develop a widely applicable treatment to repair and reverse the damage done to heart muscle that has been infarcted, or destroyed, after losing its blood supply."

In just two months, stem cells harvested from another pig's bone marrow and injected into the animal's damaged heart restored the animal's heart function and repaired damaged heart muscle from 50 percent to 75 percent, according to the study, which was published in this week's onlie issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Two patients already have been enrolled at Johns Hopkins to participate in a Phase I clinical trial of the therapy, which will test the safety of injecting adult stem cells at varying amounts in patients who have recently suffered a heart attack.

A total of 48 patients will participate in the study. Results are not expected until mid-2006, the researchers said.

More information

The National Institutes of Health have more about heart attack.

SOURCES: Johns Hopkins Medical School, news release, July 25, 2005
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