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The National Institutes of Health Extends National
Cardiovascular Cell Therapy Research Network

Network refunded and expanded to seven, including Texas Heart Institute

Houston, TX (April 2, 2012) – Officials at the Texas Heart Institute (THI) at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital (St. Luke's) announced today that the national Cardiovascular Cell Therapy Research Network (CCTRN) will be expanded and has been refunded for an additional seven years by the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

The goals of the Network are to complete research studies that will potentially lead to more effective treatments for patients with cardiovascular disease and to share knowledge quickly with the healthcare community.

THI's Stem Cell Center was first in the U.S. to receive FDA approval for an adult stem cell clinical trial to treat patients with advanced heart failure and severe heart failure. "The results of that trial and others, in collaboration with the consortium, are very promising as a possible therapy for those with severe heart failure," said THI President and Medical Director James T. Willerson, MD. "That is why continuing to fund this national collaboration is so important. We're grateful to the NIH and NHLBI and look forward to advancing this science with our partners in the Network."

"Stem cell therapy holds great promise for treating heart disease, and researchers involved in CCTRN are helping determine how these promising therapies might be most beneficial to patients," said Dr. Sonia Skarlatos, deputy director of the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences in the NIH's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. "This new round of funding is an important step in helping to improve cardiovascular health."

The Network, comprised of five centers, was originally funded by NHLBI in 2007. At that time, it represented the first U.S. federal funding for adult stem cell studies in which patients are treated with stem cells taken from their own bodies. In addition to THI, the original members of the CCTRN selected after a nationwide competition were the Cleveland Clinic, University of Florida at Gainesville, Minnesota Heart Institute and Vanderbilt University.

The University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston was also selected as the data coordinating center for the entire Network. In addition, the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children's Hospital, and the Methodist Hospital have supplied core cell processing support and additional resources, further broadening the collaboration among Texas Medical Center institutions.

The new round of funding will expand the consortium to seven institutions. They include Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital, University of Florida at Gainesville, Minnesota Heart Institute, Stanford University School of Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

Between 2000 and 2002, a team of THI physicians, led by Dr. Willerson and Dr. Emerson Perin, Medical Director for THI's Stem Cell Center, was the first in the world to conduct a clinical trial using heart failure patients' own bone marrow-derived adult stem cells to improve heart function. On March 24, 2012, Dr. Perin presented to the American College of Cardiology, the results of the latest and largest trial, conducted on more than 90 patients at five different centers under the CCTRN. That study confirmed findings of the earlier study and showed improvement in the heart's ability to pump blood for patients with severe heart failure and coronary heart disease who were out of other treatment options before receiving their own normally functioning stem cells.

See also on this website: 

Learn more about the Cardiovascular Cell Therapy Research Network.

For media inquiries please contact:
Director of Public Affairs
Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital
Frank Michel  ♦  832-355-9510  ♦

For THI and St. Luke's media profiles, see Public Affairs.

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