Amit Patel, M.D., director of Clinical Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering and an associate professor in the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Utah School of Medicine performed the therapy on American actor, Ernie Lively.
Patel started investigating cell and gene-based therapies for the treatment of heart disease 12 years ago, but only recently received FDA approval to try the therapy on Lively, who was the first of several patients anxious to receive the treatment.
Patel and his team came up with the idea of retrograde heart therapy, a concept that has been discussed for 50 years.
"The genes basically act like a light house with a bright signal. They say, ' How can we help the ships that need to get to the port - which is the heart -get there. When the signal, or the light from the SDF-1, which is that gene, shows up, the stem cells from not inside your own heart and from those that circulate from your blood and bone marrow all get attracted to the heart which is injured, and they bring reinforcements to make it stronger and pump more efficiently," Patel said.