Stem cells treatment may be the way to heal the heart muscles affected by coronary heart disease, researchers said.
Scientists at the Research Centre of the Centre hospitalier de l'Universite de Montreal (CRCHUM), in collaboration with the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital (MRH) are evaluating the safety, feasibility and efficacy of injecting stem cells into the hearts of patients while they are undergoing coronary bypass surgery.
These stem cells could improve healing of the heart and its function.
The IMPACT-CABG (implantation of autologous CD133+ stem cells in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting) protocol evaluates this experimental procedure, which is destined for patients suffering from ischemic heart disease, in which the blood supply to the heart is decreased and associated with heart failure.
The patients undergo open-heart coronary bypass surgery, performed by the medical team to improve perfusion of the heart muscle.
A few weeks ago, the first patient received progenitor CD133+ stem cells isolated from his bone marrow and enriched at the Cell Therapy Laboratory of the MRH, and has been doing very well ever since.
Already, improvement has been noted in the contraction capacity of his heart, which has improved its ability to pump blood.
The IMPACT-CABG study targets a group of patients who suffer heart muscle failure due to coronary heart disease.
The goal is to add another treatment option to coronary bypass to promote healing and regeneration of the damaged heart muscle.
The new procedure is less invasive and less expensive than heart transplant, the only treatment now available for patients with severe heart failure.
This is a first study in Canada evaluating intramyocardial injection of stem cells.
"Also, no research team in the country had implemented such a complete treatment process, going from harvesting stem cells in the patient, treating them, and injecting them directly into the myocardium," said Dr. Nicolas Noiseux, cardiac surgeon at the CHUM and principal investigator in the study.
"Moreover, the methods used to evaluate the recovery of heart function make use of cutting-edge imaging techniques," said Dr. Samer Mansour, cardiologist at the CHUM, principal co-investigator.
To prepare for the intervention, cells from the bone marrow harvested at the CHUM are transferred to the cell therapy laboratory of the MRH to isolate the most immature stem cells, which will be injected directly into the patient's heart.