The researchers also conducted MRI studies on the patients' hearts and saw that the size of the scarred regions had decreased a result that seemingly begins to disprove the long-held belief that once scarring occurs, the heart tissue is forever dead.
Bolli who is lead author of The Lancet article and presenter of the data at the Scientific Sessions says that the adult stem cell protocol could become one of the greatest advancements in cardiac treatment in a generation.
"The results are striking," Bolli said. "While we do not yet know why the improvement occurs, we have no doubt now that ejection fraction increased and scarring decreased. If these results hold up in future studies, I believe this could be the biggest revolution in cardiovascular medicine in my lifetime."
His colleague Anversa has been studying cardiac stem cells' potential to regenerate myocardial cells damaged from heart failure since the 1990s. "Seeing these cells given successfully to very sick patients is the most rewarding experience that a physician-scientist can have in his or her lifetime," said Anversa, noting that the work was a major team effort that involved several senior members in both his and Bolli's laboratories.
The SCIPIO trial was funded by a grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The researchers reiterated that these findings are preliminary and larger-scale studies must be undertaken before the therapy can be widely used.
Bolli already is looking forward to a larger study, he said. "We plan to apply for funding to conduct a Phase II multi-center trial," he said.
|Contact: Jill Scoggins|
University of Louisville