Johns Hopkins Starts Adult Stem Cell Research Trial to Repair Hearts

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 25, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Johns Hopkins Starts Adult Stem Cell Research Trial to Repair Hearts Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 25
, 2005

Washington, DC ( — Researchers at Johns Hopkins University are beginning a new clinical trial that is believed to be the first to use adult mesenchymal stem cells to repair muscle damaged by heart attack.

The first part of the study is designed to test the safety of injecting adult stem cells at varying doses in patients who have recently suffered a heart attack.

An estimated 7 million Americans alive today have suffered at least one heart attack and so are at greater risk for chronic heart failure, sudden cardiac death or another, potentially fatal, heart attack.

"This is an important milestone on the journey to better cardiovascular care and to realization of the promise of adult stem cell research," says lead study investigator and cardiologist Joshua Hare, M.D., professor of medicine at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and its Heart Institute.

Cardiologist Steven Schulman, M.D., a professor at Hopkins and co-director of the research team said current approaches to cardiovascular disease don’t usually include repairing heart damage.

The Hopkins team presented their research on animals at a November 2004 American Heart Association conference.

The team found that 75 percent of dead scar tissue disappeared after therapy and they hope to replicate the success with humans. The new Hopkins study will involve 48 adults.

After injecting stem cells taken from the bone marrow of an adult, human donor, into subjects’ bloodstream, the researchers will monitor the patient’s progress for two years.

Related clinical research under way in China also uses adult stem cells, but they come directly from the patient.

Hopkins researchers said adult stem cells were being used "because they are readily available from the bone marrow, where they are plentiful. A special kind of bone marrow stem cell, called a mesenchymal stem cell, was separated from other kinds for use in this study."

Pro-life groups say the success with adult stem cells points to the lack of a need to use stem cells obtained by destroying human embryos.