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Stem Cells Might Reverse Heart Damage From Chemo
Date:12/30/2009

Cancer patients could one day take potent therapies, get heart fixed later, researchers say ,,

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Certain types of chemotherapy can damage the heart while thwarting cancer, a dilemma that has vexed scientists for years. But a new study in rats finds that injecting the heart with stem cells can reverse the damage caused by a potent anti-cancer drug.

The findings could one day mean that cancer patients could safely take higher doses of a powerful class of chemotherapy drugs and have any resulting damage to their hearts repaired later on using their own cardiac stem cells, the researchers said.

The study was published online Dec. 28 in advance of print publication in the journal Circulation.

Doxorubicin is a common chemotherapy drug used to treat many types of cancer, including breast, ovarian, lung, thyroid, neuroblastoma, lymphoma and leukemia.

But the drug can have serious side effects, including heart damage that can lead to congestive failure years after cancer treatment ends.

In the study, researchers removed cardiac stem cells from rodents before chemotherapy. The stem cells were isolated and expanded in the lab.

Rats were then given the chemo drug doxorubicin, inducing heart failure. Afterward, the rats' stem cells were re-injected into their hearts, and the damage was reversed.

"Theoretically, patients could be rescued using their own stem cells," said study author Dr. Piero Anversa, director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

A Phase 1 clinical trial using a similar procedure in people is already under way, said Dr. Roberto Bolli, chief of cardiology and director of the Institute of Molecular Cardiology at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, who is heading the trial.

His lab has U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to treat 30 patients who have
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