Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A step forward in treating coronary artery disease

Chronic ischemic heart disease (IHD) otherwise known as coronary artery disease is one of the major causes of death worldwide, most common with the passing of years. It usually occurs due to a partial blockage of blood flow to the heart. At times, the heart fails to get essential blood to work normally, in this situation it has no other way except to work harder which leads it to become starved for oxygen. The complete blockage of blood flow to the heart is what can cause a myocardial infarction.

The pharmaceutical giant, Baxter, is developing a treatment which uses patients' own stem cells to repair damage to the heart. Were this phase III trial to be successful it would represent the last step in the clinical development process before submission by the regulatory authorities and, hopefully, approval and commercialisation. Unlike some of the other recent stem cell trials to repair heart this procedure uses stem cells from a patient's bone marrow that are normally involved in the creation of new blood vessels.

In the procedure these CD34+ cells are stimulated to grow and multiply, before being induced to enter the bloodstream. The cells are then collected, processed and injected into targeted areas of the heart.

Around 450 patients will be enrolled in the trial and split into three treatment groups:
·         one group who will receive the therapy,
·         one group who will receive placebo
·         third group who will receive standard medical care

Ability to exercise one year after therapy will be a key indicator of the treatment's effectiveness. Doctors will also collect safety data for two years following the start of the therapy. The current trial follows on from a phase II study, where the CD34+ stem cell treatment improved exercise capacity and reduced chest pain.


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