-- UB research establishes that new heart cells can be
regenerated in a stem cell therapy potentially applicable to
patients suffering from heart dysfunction arising from insufficient
blood flow to the heart.
-- This UB research is being presented today (Nov. 15) at the
American Heart Association annual meeting.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Healthy, new heart cells have been generated by
animals with chronic ischemic heart disease after receiving stem
cells derived from cardiac biopsies or "cardiospheres," according
to research conducted at the University at Buffalo School of
Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
The research is being presented today (Nov. 15) at the
Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association in
The UB research demonstrated a 30 percent increase in healthy
heart muscle cells within a month after receiving
cardiosphere-derived cells (or CDCs). This finding is contrary to
conventional wisdom which has held that heart cells are terminally
differentiated and thus, are unable to divide.
Ischemic heart disease from coronary artery narrowing and prior
heart attacks is the most common cause of heart failure, the UB
researchers explain. While other investigators have largely focused
on regenerating muscle in scarred tissue, the UB group has shown
that cardiac repair could be brought about by infusing the CDCs
slowly into coronary arteries of the diseased as well as normal
areas of the heart.
"Whereas most research has focused upon irreversible damage and
scarring following a heart attack, we have shown that a single CDC
infusion is capable of improving heart function in areas of the
heart that are viable but not functioning normally," explains study
co-author John M. Canty Jr., MD, the Albert and Elizabeth Rekate
Professor of Medicine in the UB medical school and UB's chief of
He explains that areas of myocardial dysfunction without
fibrotic scarring are common in patients with heart failure from
coronary artery disease and that they arise from remodeling in
response to a heart attack, as well as adaptations that develop
from periods of inadequate blood flow, sometimes called hibernating
"The rationale for our approach is somewhat analogous to
planting seeds in fertile soil versus trying to grow plants in
sand," Canty comments.
"We have shown that cells derived from heart biopsies can be
expanded outside of the body and slowly infused back into the
coronary arteries of animals with chronic dysfunction from
restricted blood flow or hibernating myocardium," says Gen Suzuki,
MD, research assistant professor of medicine in the UB medical
school and lead author on the research. "The new cardiac muscle
cells are small and function more normally than diseased large,
Canty adds that infusing stem cell formulations directly into
coronary arteries also delivers the cells throughout the heart and
is much simpler than injecting cells directly into heart muscle
which requires equipment that is not widely available.
The research currently is in a preclinical phase but the UB
researchers expect that translation to determine effectiveness in
patients could take place within two to three years or possibly
Co-authors on the paper are Thomas Cimato, M.D., Ph.D.,
assistant professor of medicine and Merced Leiker, research
associate in the UB Division of Cardiovascular Medicine.
The research was funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs;
the Empire State Stem Cell Board; the National Heart, Lung and
Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health; and the
Albert and Elizabeth Rekate Fund.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public
university, a flagship institution in the State University of New
York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's
more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through
more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree
programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of
the Association of American Universities.