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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

adult stem cells to the rescue!

An Israeli-Thai company, Theravitae, is having great success using stem cells harvested from patients' own blood to heal their failing hearts, as reported in this article from This is fascinating stuff, and very hopeful for the future. All done quite painlessly, and without the need to destroy an unborn human being.
JERUSALEM – After 61 years of pumping blood, Marie Carty's heart was failing her.

Months earlier she had given up her two-mile walk on the boardwalk of her New Jersey hometown along the Atlantic Ocean. She could barely make it from the parking lot to the view of the water.

Although Carty knew she needed a new heart, she was afraid hers wouldn't last during the long wait for a transplant.

Desperate for an alternative, Carty found the Israeli-Thai company Theravitae, which has begun performing an experimental procedure that multiplies stem cells taken from a patient's own blood and injects them into the ailing heart in hopes of strengthening it...

After a two-week trip last fall to Thailand for the operation, Carty is once again walking two miles on the boardwalk in Little Silver, N.J. – and her strengthened heart led doctors to remove her from the transplant list.

“The change is like night and day,” said Carty, who works in property management. “I feel myself again, more energy, more stamina.”
The article mentions that another recipient of the procedure is Hawaiian singer Don Ho. The procedure has not gone unnoticed by the U.S. medical establishment:
Dr. Mark Zucker, director of heart failure and transplantation at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in New Jersey, said therapy using adult stem cells is the way of the future. His center is considering working with Theravitae.

Zucker said that if doctors at Theravitae have discovered how to make stem cells heal heart tissue, this could be a real solution for tens of thousands of Americans, since only 2,300 hearts become available for transplant in the United States each year.

“I believe Theravitae is on the right track,” Zucker said. “I think if the company has identified an efficient way to procure cells and expand them, the company's impact will be revolutionary.”
Too bad, as the article mentions, the FDA hasn't approved the procedure for use within the U.S. Read the whole article.


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