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Temple University Hospital Offers Landmark Stem Cell Trial for Heart Disease

News July 23, 2012

Temple University Hospital is participating in a Phase-3, nationwide clinical trial for patients with ischemic heart disease. Temple is the only hospital in the Philadelphia region to study this promising treatment.

The trial – called RENEW – is investigating whether a patient’s own stem cells can help reduce angina and improve blood flow to the heart by creating new blood vessels. 

Jon C. George, MD, Adjunct Research Instructor at the Cardiovascular Research Center at Temple University School of Medicine, is the principal investigator in the RENEW trial. “This is a first of its kind study in the United States and here at Temple,” Dr. George said. “We’re fortunate to be the only site in Philadelphia that is offering this trial.”

After a pre-screening process, those that meet the clinical criteria to participate will have stem cells from their own bone marrow mobilized over five days. For the patients randomly chosen to get the treatment, the mobilized stem cell blood product is taken to a lab where CD34-positive cells will be isolated. CD34-positive cells have been shown to create new blood vessels.  Those CD34-positive cells are then returned to the patient to be injected into their heart tissue. 

Doctors will use a special mapping tool, called NOGA®, to be able to see the exact areas of the heart which are damaged. They will then inject the cells directly into the borders surrounding those areas. Those border zones have been shown to best support the creation of new blood vessels and the repair of damaged vessels. 

Patients not randomly selected to get the treatment will be given a placebo. The patients in the trial will then go through two years of follow-up visits, which will include -- among other things -- exercise tests and questionnaires.

Steven R. Houser, PhD, Director of Temple’s Cardiovascular Research Center, is assisting with the trial and working to find novel treatments for ischemic heart disease. “Once the heart gets injured like this, there is something abnormal about how the blood vessels form,” Dr. Houser said. “The hope is that these cells can re-stimulate a more normal flow by correcting the disease in the existing vessels and then forming new ones.” 

“I think cell therapy is the next thing that has the potential to change the way medicine is actually delivered,” added Houser

The trial is sponsored by Baxter Healthcare Corporation, which processes the cells used in the trial.

Temple University Hospital is currently pre-screening patients for the trial.  Interested individuals may call Jennie Wong, RN, CCRP, Clinical Research Coordinator, at 215-707-5340, for more information.

Editor’s note: Neither Dr. George nor Dr. Houser has any financial interest in Baxter Healthcare Corporation.