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Cedars-Sinai at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions: Stem Cell Expert Will Participate in Roundtable Discussions

Eduardo Marbán, M.D., one of the most prominent cardiac stem cell researchers, will describe the latest advances during the event that begins at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 16

Los Angeles - Nov. 16, 2010Eduardo Marbán, M.D., director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and one of the world leaders in cardiac stem cell technology, is participating in a Research Roundtable discussion with the media Tuesday, Nov. 16, at 1 p.m. CST during the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions.

Stem cells are “immature” cells that can renew themselves and may be engineered by scientists to become a variety of specialized cells. It is widely believed that stem cell technology may have the potential to treat many conditions, including heart disease, by replacing damaged cells with renewable healthy ones. Scientists are studying which stem cells offer the greatest potential and which methods work best to isolate, grow and coax them into becoming the target cells.

In 2009, Marbán and his research team completed the first procedure in which a heart attack victim’s own heart tissue was used to grow specialized heart stem cells that were then injected back into the heart.  Results are expected within the next 12 months.   During Tuesday’s meeting, Marbán and his colleagues provide several oral presentations (outlined below) about animal studies on stem cell therapy following heart attack, research identifying the best sources of stem cells, and the most effective methods of growing and nurturing heart stem cells:

“Intramyocardial Injection of Autologous Cardiospheres or Cardiosphere-Derived Cells Preserves Function and Minimizes Adverse Ventricular Remodeling in Pigs with Heart Failure Post-Myocardial Infarction” will be presented from 2:15 to 2:30 p.m. (Session 19030.)

“Paracrine and Functional Superiority of Human Cardiosphere-Derived Cells as Compared to Mesenchymal Stem Cells, Adipose-Derived Stem Cells or Bone Marrow Mononuclear Cells” will be presented from 2:30 to 2:45 p.m. (Session 20957.)

“Cardiospheres Recaputulate a Niche-Like Microenvironment Rich in Stemness and Cell-Matrix Interactions, Rationalizing Their Enhanced Functional Potency for Myocardial Repair” will be presented from 3 to 3:15 p.m. (Session 16273.)

According to the researchers, adult cardiac stem cells that are grown to cluster in spherical structures (cardiospheres) survive and improve heart function in the animal model better than stem cells grown as single cells or in cell sheets. The stem cells were implanted in mice after a heart attack, and treatment with the spheres was most effective in improving heart attack damage. The findings could herald a potential new approach to treating heart patients.

The stem cells and their supporting cells and molecules were obtained from biopsied human endomyocardial tissue – the layer of tissue and muscle lining the inside of the heart’s chambers. The researchers grew cells in 3D structures known as cardiospheres and as cellular sheets, or monolayers that are one cell thick. The cardiospheres showed significantly higher levels of proteins and chemicals vital to the growth and self-renewal of stem cells, compared to the layered stem cells.

In mice injected with human cells, the cardiospheres resulted in more stem cell “engraftment” (incorporation into the animals’ hearts) and improved heart function, compared to monolayer-grown single stem cells. The scientists concluded that cardiac stem cell survival and potency for heart repair is stronger with cardiospheres than monolayer stem cells.

The process to grow the cardiac-derived stem cells involved in Marbán’s studies was developed by Marbán when he was on the faculty of Johns Hopkins University. The university has filed for a patent on that intellectual property, and has licensed it to a company in which Marbán has a financial interest.  No funds from that company are used to support Marbán’s studies or clinical trials.