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Vanderbilt Performs State's First Stem Cell Heart Regeneration Therapy

e all efforts, suffer damage to the heart muscle, we are studying the effects of this treatment in repairing the heart muscle.

“We are hoping that this is just the beginning of the journey and eventually we will be able to provide this unique therapy as part of our treatment protocol to patients with a damaged heart.”

For decades, the major barrier in treating heart attack patients is the inability to repair the damaged muscle. About 20 percent of patients experience permanent muscle loss, which ultimately leads to heart failure. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Five million people suffer from heart failure. Half of those die.

“If you look at the big picture, we don’t have a definitive way to improve people’s heart function, “said Scott Phillips, M.D., a cardiology fellow. “Heart failure has a huge financial impact on our medical system. If we could improve heart function, if this proves to be a viable therapy, there would be tremendous benefits, not only for the patient, but in terms of the amount of money a health care system could save. It would be astronomical.”

Vanderbilt’s participation in this Phase I, industry-supported study highlights its role as a key player in stem cell regeneration in this country. For years, Europe has been the site for much of the heart-related, stem cell based therapies.

“Fewer than five centers in the country are doing this kind of cell-based therapy,” said Zhao. “Coupled with the fact that we are one of five programs funded by the NIH for cell-based therapies definitely brings Vanderbilt to the next level. We are playing a leading role in cell therapy.”

Patients enrolled in the Amorcyte trial, like Plummer, will be seen regularly for up to five years. Within three to six months, investigators expect to see some improvement in heart function.

“This treatment approach looks very promising based on preliminary results a
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