Heart attacks are a leading killer of men and women in the US, with 1.5 million attacks occurring each year resulting in 500,000 deaths. A minimally invasive surgery, which repairs a patient’s heart using the patient’s own heart stem cells, could become an option in the foreseeable future.
June 29th marked the completion of the first procedure on Kenneth Milles, a 39-year-old from San Fernando Valley. After experiencing a heart attack May 10, his own cardiac tissue was used to grow specialized heart stem cells and then injected back into his heart. The hope is the stem cells will repair and regenerate healthy cardiac muscle.
“This procedure signals a new and exciting era in the understanding and treatment of heart disease,” says Eduardo Marban, MD PhD, who developed the technique and is leading the clinical trials.
According to Vitals.com, Dr. Marban received his medical degree from Yale and completed a residency in cardiovascular disease at John Hopkins. He is presently the director of the Cedars Sinai Heart Institute.
Kenneth and all other 23 participants in the study will be monitored for six months. The complete results are scheduled to be available in late-2010.
“If successful, we hope the procedure would be widely available in a few years and broadly applied to cardiac patients. If patients can regrow damaged heart muscle, there would be lesser demand for expensive and risky treatments such as heart transplants.”