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Stem cell-heart attack trial begins
by Staff Writers
Houston (UPI) Dec 9, 2009

New gene therapy and stem cells save limbs
Baltimore (UPI) Dec 9, 2009 - U.S. scientists say they have developed an experimental therapy that eliminates blood vessel blockage associated with old age or diabetes. Johns Hopkins University medical researchers say blood vessel blockage can lead to low blood flow, resulting in low oxygen, that can kill cells and tissues. Such blockages can require amputation resulting in loss of limbs. In their new study, the scientists used mice as a model to develop therapies that increase blood flow, improve movement and decrease tissue death and the resulting need for amputation. "In a young, healthy individual, hypoxia -- low oxygen levels -- triggers the body to make factors that help coordinate the growth of new blood vessels. But this process doesn't work as well as we age," said Dr. Gregg Semenza, a professor of pediatrics and genetic medicine. "Now, with the help of gene therapy and stem cells we can help reactivate the body's response to hypoxia and save limbs." He said the study is promising because it shows a combination of gene and cell therapy can improve the outcome in the case of critical limb ischemia associated with aging or diabetes. "And that's critical for bringing such treatment to the clinic," he said.

Scientists at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston say they've started a Phase II trial of a new stem cell-based therapy for injured heart muscle.

During Phase I of the trial, researchers said patients were treated safely with intravenous adult human mesenchymal stem cells (Prochymal) after a heart attack. They experienced fewer arrhythmias, improved heart and lung function and improvement in overall condition.

"We are able to use a stem cell product that is on the shelf without prior preparation of anything from the patient, and this product appears to be able to help the heart muscle recover after a heart attack," said Dr. Ali Denktas, the trial's Houston site principal investigator and assistant professor of cardiology. "This means patients have the potential to recover quicker with less risk of an immediate secondary attack."

In many cell-based therapies, doctors harvest the patient's own cells, process them and then return them to the patient. Prochymal, developed by Osiris Therapeutics Inc., contains adult mesenchymal stem cells from healthy donors, the scientists said.

The researchers Monday enrolled the first patient for the Phase II, double-blind study at the Houston site.

Results from Phase I of the multi-institution trial are reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.


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New stem cell technology developed
Jerusalem (UPI) Dec 1, 2009
Scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem say they have developed a new stem cell technology that helps bone fractures heal quickly. The technology that involves isolation of the stem cells from bone marrow was developed by Drs. Zulma Gazit and Gadi Pelled, along with Professor Dan Gazit at the university's Skeletal Biotechnology Laboratory. The scientists say their technology ... read more

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