Myocardial and Critical Limb Ischemia
Autologous stem cell therapy can be defined as an attempt to regenerate and replenish tissue by increasing the supply of naturally occurring reparative cells at sites of damage. This approach relies on the phenomenon of plasticity—autologous stem cells from one tissue generating specialized cells of another tissue.
Douglas Losordo, M.D., director, Feinberg Cardiovascular Research Institute, and professor, heart research, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, will be presenting his group’s work in patients with advanced cardiac and vascular disease. “We have results from two randomized, controlled clinical trials of CD34 stem cell therapy for cardiovascular disease,” says Dr. Losordo.
“One shows significant improvements in chest pain and exercise capacity in treated versus controls. The other is a Phase IIa study in patients with critical limb ischemia that shows a significant reduction in amputation rates in patients treated with their own CD34 cells.”
The goal is to spur the growth of small blood vessels that make up the microcirculation of the heart muscle, he says. Researchers believe that the loss of these blood vessels contributes to the pain of chronic, severe angina. “Autologous cells have been used for a long time in transplants, providing some history of safety, albeit in different indications,” says Dr. Losordo. “The challenges are similar, I think, to the development of any novel therapy: establishing proof of principal, evidence for safety, and so on.”
The results seem promising; Dr. Losordo adds, “Phase III studies for cell therapies for cardiovascular disease will be performed in the next 12–18 months.”