First-in-human clinical trials for a new approach using stem cells to repair the damage caused by heart attacks has been given approval by the FDA.
In preliminary studies with a related product derived from the patient’s own cells, giving patients these modified CDCs were shown by an imaging study to reduce the amount of scarring left by the heart attack. The adult human heart contains small numbers of cardiac stem cells that are able to partially repair the heart following a heart attack or throughout the course of progressive heart failure. The scientists have developed a method to isolate these cells and grow them to large numbers in the lab.
Funding for research that contributed to the potential therapy came from California’s stem cell agency, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), through a Disease Team grant to Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles.
Few families in California are not impacted by heart disease. Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death and disability in Americans- on average, cardiovascular disease kills one American every 37 seconds. The death toll from cardiovascular disease is greater than that for cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, accidents, and diabetes combined. Death rates have improved, but new treatments are urgently needed. Aside from the human costs, cardiovascular disease exacts a tremendous fiscal toll: the American Heart Association estimates that the total costs of cardiovascular disease in the United States approached one-half trillion dollars in 2008. All taxpayers must bear the economic burden of resulting death and disability.