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Arizona Heart Institute Pioneers Research That May Offer New Hope to Heart Failure Patients

PHOENIX, Oct. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Nationally, over 3,000 people are waiting for a heart transplant - and a new lease on life. Sadly, only half of those will receive a transplant. Now, pioneering research at Arizona Heart Institute (AHI) is paving the way for how to treat congestive heart failure (CHF) patients.

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Called MyoCell(R) Muscle Stem Cell Therapy, the unique transplant procedure actually uses skeletal muscle stem cells (myoblasts) from the patient's own body that are injected into the heart. This may create new functioning heart muscle.

Arizona Heart Institute has extensive knowledge in this area, having already completed two myoblast transplantation research studies in patients suffering from congestive heart failure (CHF), the first in 2002 involving the direct injection of myoblast cells into the heart during open heart surgery, and in 2004, the nation's first delivery of myoblast cells using a minimally invasive, catheter-based approach.

Results of these early-phase studies indicate myoblast therapy may improve contractility of heart muscle. Today, AHI is involved in the next stages of myoblast research with the potential to bring myoblast stem cell therapy for eligible CHF patients one step closer to commercialization.

Arizona Heart Institute is part of the MARVEL (Phase II/III Study to Assess Safety and Efficacy of Myoblast Implementation Into Myocardium Post Myocardial Infarction(s)) multicenter trial sponsored by BioHeart, Inc., to further investigate the stem cell implementation procedure.

"The MARVEL research study may lead to the future of medicine for CHF," said Edward B. Diethrich, the study's principal investigator at AHI, founder and medical director of Arizona Heart Institute and Arizona Heart Hospital. "The myoblast cells are derived from a patient's own skeletal muscle tissue thereby reducing risk of rejection. Further, myoblasts can be delivered to the heart muscle in a minimally invasive fashion via a catheter under local anesthesia. Quite literally, a patient may be able to heal their own heart."

Congestive Heart Failure is a condition in which the heart cannot pump enough oxygen-rich blood to the body's other organs, often as a result of prior heart attack. As blood flow out of the heart slows, blood returning to the heart through the veins backs up, causing congestion in the tissues. Patients with CHF often experience swelling, fatigue and shortness of breath. It affects over five million Americans today.

Patients with CHF have portions of the heart muscle that are severely damaged, usually due to a heart attack. Unlike other tissues in the body, the human heart does not have the ability to repair itself, weakening the heart muscle's ability to function as it did before the heart attack. Without treatment, the heart may grow weaker, eventually resulting in an irreversible situation. Patients with advanced, severe heart failure that do not respond to any treatment method may be considered for heart transplantation. The hope is that Myoblast Therapy may someday replace heart transplantation as the primary option for patients with severe CHF, giving them a new lease on life.

To date, upwards of 235 CHF patients have been treated worldwide using myoblasts. Myoblast transplantation for congestive heart failure is investigational and not approved commercially in the U.S. To be eligible for the MARVEL research study, a patient must be diagnosed with chronic Class II - IV CHF, stable and on optimal medical therapy for at least 60 days, and between the ages of 18-80. To make an appointment at Arizona Heart Institute, or for more information about the MARVEL research study, please call (602) 707-4000, or visit

SOURCE Arizona Heart Institute
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