Patient's own stem cells used to treat advanced heart disease

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Scientists have found that treating patients with advanced heart disease with their own purified and potent stem cells can reduce symptoms of angina and fatigue. CD34+ cells injected into the heart grew new blood vessels, reducing bouts of angina, improved walking ability, and resulted in fewer deaths among the patients with heart disease compared to those who did not receive stem cell injections.

Principal investigator Douglas Losordo, M.D., the Eileen M. Foell Professor of Heart Research at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine says, "This is the first study to show significant benefit in pain reduction and improved exercise capacity in this population with very advanced heart disease. CD34+ stem cells were used to stimulate growth of small blood vessels. Scientists believe loss of circulation in the small blood vessels that surround the heart contribute to angina.


The study is a phase II, twelve month trial that showed a patient’s own stem cells could treat advanced heart disease. The study authors say Phase III trials are needed for verification. The current study included 167 subjects from 25 sites.

In the study, patients transplanted with their own stem cells were able to double their walking time on a treadmill after twelve months. The scientists used a high-tech mapping device to find disease blood vessels in the heart and injected the CD34+ into 10 locations in the heart muscle.

The patients who received their own stem cells injected into the heart muscle, compared to placebo group experienced less daily chest pain, were able to walk twice as long before they experience angina, and the pain went away sooner with rest. The stem cell study was conducted on patients with chronic severe angina and advanced heart disease and is the first to show that using a patient’s own CD34+ cells could improve heart disease outcomes by stimulating growth of new blood vessels around the heart.

Northwestern University News Center