Abdominal fat as medicine after a myocardial infarction Stem cells isolated from abdominal fat can repair the damaged heart |
Patients that have experienced a myocardial infarction can profit from their abdominal fat. Stem cells from the fat can potentially repair the damaged heart. When the stem cells isolated from the abdominal fat are injected into the heart, the patients appear to recover more quickly and completely. Cardiologists from the Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam have discovered this in a clinical study with the first group of patients (designated APOLLO). The results are promising , and expansion of the study to more centers is currently being considered.
Patients that have experienced a myocardial infarction often continue to experience delimiting health problems. During the infarct, the coronary arteries are damaged and part of the heart will be irreversibly lost, as well as part of the pump function of the heart. Patients may thus experience complaints of a low excercise tolerance, shortness of breath, as well as a risk to develop cardiac rhythm problems and a high risk to develop a new myocardial infarction. Daily activities that up to the heart infarct were considered normal, like stair climbing, are now strenous excercises that may limit the quality of life. “These limitations have a profound impact on their daily life” says Eric Duckers, the interventional cardiologist that led the clinical study together with prof.dr.Patrick Serruys.
Patients with a heart attack that received the stem cells isolated from their own stomach fat injected into the coronary arteries of the heart, appear to function better. However the complete data from this study, sponsored by Cytori Therapeutics, a San Dieco, USA company, will not be unveiled for another couple of months . To date, fourteen patients have been treated in this clinical study. Their heart function appear to have improved as compared to untreated patients. Duckers: ”For patients this potentially could mean the difference between a life with heart problems or a normal way of living”. The findings in the study are so encouraging that expansion of the study to more centers is currently being considered.
Stem cells from stomach fat behave as a repair mechanism. First, they produce proteins that support the heart muscle cells during the infarction. Duckers: ‘These cells help the heart through the difficult time of the myocardial infarction. Also they promote the growth of new blood vessels into the inflicted myocardial tissue to reduce the scar size.’ In this first clinical study, patients were included that mainly experienced a large myocardial infarction. The research group specifically wanted to investigate how the treatment was experienced in this particular vulnerable patient group. “The therapy of liposuction and stem cell therapy was very well tolerated in the acute phase of a myocardial infarction”, says Duckers.
For many of the patients, the first introduction to the novel therapy appeared somewhat peculiar. After the admission for their heart attack and treatment in the catheterization laboratory, they were referred to the plastic surgeon who performed a liposuction to remove 200 cc of abdominal fat. The fat tissue was processed in a specific device, Cytori’s Celution(NYSE:R) System, that filtered the stem cells from the fat tissue within 1-2 hours. The cardiologist then injected the cells immediatelly into the coronary artery of the heart.
This is the first time that stem cells from abdominal fat were used to treat patients with cardiovascular disease. Stem cells from bone marrow have been used before for medical treatment. However, bone marrow only contain a limited number of (mesenchymal) stem cells for the direct treatment of the myocardial infarction. “For this, you would need a substancial higher number of cells. This can be easily extracted from abdominal fat, since most patients can very well miss some of it”
Erasmus MC is the largest and most authoritative scientific University Medical Center in the Netherlands. Almost 13,000 staff members work within the core tasks of patient care, education, and scientific research on the continuous improvement and enforcement of individual patient care and social healthcare. They develop high-level knowledge, pass this on to future professionals, and apply it in everyday patient care. Over the next five years, Erasmus MC wants to grow into one of the best medical institutes in the world. Erasmus MC is part of the Dutch Federation of University Medical Centers (NFU). Seewww.nfu.nl