OHSU Evaluating Stem Cell Therapy for Heart Attack Damage

01/05/10  Portland, Ore.

Cardiac patients are now being enrolled in a new study designed to evaluate whether adult stem cells are an effective means of restoring damaged heart muscle

Oregon Health & Science University is enrolling research participants in a new clinical trial that evaluates whether intravenous infusions of adult stem cells can restore damaged heart tissue in patients after a heart attack. OHSU is the only health center in the Northwest, and one of only approximately 40 in the world, to offer the experimental treatment.

Preliminary tests indicate stem cell therapy administered within a week of a heart attack may reduce inflammation and rebuild damaged heart muscle. The therapy, called Prochymal®, is a formulation of adult stem cells derived from the bone marrow of healthy adult donors.

If proven effective, this would be the first time doctors are able to reverse the cardiac injury inflicted by a heart attack. The therapy also may reduce the chances of developing heart failure.

"Stem cells are a promising method for regenerating heart muscle, limiting the formation of scar tissue and restoring heart function," says interventional cardiologist Saurabh Gupta, M.D., the director of the cardiac cath lab at OHSU and principal investigator for this trial. "The challenge is finding the best way to deliver the stem cells."

Earlier efforts have involved injecting stem cells directly into damaged heart tissue during heart surgery or using a catheter to infuse stem cells directly into a coronary artery. The new trial evaluates administering the stem cells with an IV, which not only is less invasive, but also is more convenient for patients. "It takes an hour," Gupta says. "And it can be done as an outpatient."

Researchers believe that the swelling that occurs as a result of a heart attack aids the stem cell delivery to the affected area – in this case the heart. "Our current understanding is that the swelling sends out signals that serve as homing devices to the stem cells," Gupta says. "That's why the trial excludes patients with ongoing infections or advanced lung disease."

People who receive the treatment will be followed for two years after receiving the stem cell therapy.Participation in the study includes a thorough health evaluation, study related medications and tests at no cost to the participants. For additional information about the research study and eligibility, please contact 503-494-8750. The study is sponsored by Osiris Therapeutics, Inc. the company that manufactures the stem cell treatment. For more information about Prochymal®, go to http://www.osiris.com/clinical_prochymal_ami.php.

About OHSU                          

Oregon Health & Science University is the state's only health and research university, and Oregon's only academic health center. OHSU is Portland's largest employer and the fourth largest in Oregon (excluding government). OHSU's size contributes to its ability to provide many services and community support activities not found anywhere else in the state. It serves patients from every corner of the state, and is a conduit for learning for more than 3,400 students and trainees. OHSU is the source of more than 200 community outreach programs that bring health and education services to every county in the state.

About Prochymal

Prochymal® is an investigational therapy developed by Osiris Therapeutics, Inc., containing mesenchymal stem cells from the bone marrow of healthy adult volunteer donors. Studies show that this formulation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) is universally compatible, similar to type O blood. The stem cells found in Prochymal® are delivered intravenously, in combination with standard care. They are designed to provide therapeutic benefit by controlling inflammation, promoting tissue regeneration and preventing scar formation.