Regenerative medicine experts at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute have opened a new clinic to evaluate heart and vascular disease patients for participation in stem cell medical studies.
Led by Eduardo Marbán, MD, PhD, director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, and Timothy Henry, MD, director of the Heart Institute's Cardiology Division, the doctors and researchers at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute Regenerative Medicine Clinic use a scientific approach to assess the possible benefits of stem cells to repair damaged or diseased cardiovascular tissues. The clinic is believed to be the first at a major U.S. academic medical center dedicated to matching patients with appropriate stem cell clinical trials, whether those research interventions are available at the medical center or at other institutions.
The Heart Institute Regenerative Medicine Clinic offers consultative services for patients with heart and vascular disease who may qualify for investigative stem cell therapy. The goal is to provide research options to patients who remain symptomatic on their current management regimen, or for patients with stable heart disease who are concerned about disease progression.
"Over the past decade, medical experts have predicted that in the future, stem cell therapies would transform heart disease treatment and save lives," said Shlomo Melmed, MD, dean of the Cedars-Sinai faculty and the Helene A. and Philip E. Hixon Distinguished Chair in Investigative Medicine. "At Cedars-Sinai, we have a track record of successfully directing cardiac stem cell studies as well as transferring innovations from the laboratory to the patient bedside."
In 2009, Marbán and his team completed the world's first procedure in which a patient's own heart tissue was used to grow specialized heart stem cells. The specialized cells were then injected back into the patient's heart in an effort to repair and re-grow healthy muscle in a heart that had been injured by a heart attack. Results, published in The Lancet in 2012, showed that one year after receiving the stem cell treatment, heart attack patients demonstrated a significant reduction in the size of the scar left on the heart muscle after a heart attack.
Henry has served as principal investigator of multiple large, multicenter trials in acute coronary syndromes, myocardial infarction and angiogenesis, including several ongoing cardiovascular stem cell trials. He also is principal investigator for one of seven NIH Clinical Cardiovascular Stem Cell Centers.
"Our goal is to help make stem cells a regular treatment option for heart disease," Henry said. "Right now, many patients with advanced heart disease have limited treatment options. Stem cells offer not only hope but a real chance of a game-changing treatment."
As part of each patient's assessment in the Heart Regenerative Medicine Clinic, physicians will evaluate patients interested in participating in stem cell clinical trials at Cedars-Sinai and, for patients willing to travel at other medical institutions across the nation. For patients willing to travel to participate in research, Cedars-Sinai physicians will work closely with investigators at other centers to expedite referrals and seamlessly transfer all relevant medical records.
"Patients who have battled heart failure, heart attacks and severe hypertension for years might not be aware of new options that could improve their health and quality of life," Marbán said. "Not every patient will find a suitable stem cell clinical trial, but we are focused on finding each patient the most advanced treatment for their disease."
The Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute