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    Belly Fat Stem Cells May Help Heart

    Study Shows Fat Stem Cells May Improve Heart Function After Heart Attack

    How the Stem Cell Technique Works continued...

    The findings were presented here at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2010.

    The researchers liposuctioned fat from the abdomen of 10 patients, isolated 20 million stem cells, and infused them back into the patient through a catheter -- all in 10 minutes. The other four patients got placebo infusions.

    By six months later, SPECT imaging showed that blood flow to the heart had improved 3.5-fold in people getting fat stem cells, compared with those getting placebo. Heart pumping ability increased 5.7% in the stem cell group.

    As seen on MRI scans, the average area of heart muscle scarring was cut in half in the treatment group, from 31.6% after the heart attack to 15.4%.

    "It was dramatic," Duckers says. "There was one patient in whom we couldn't even see a scar anymore."

    Among people getting placebo infusions, there was no change in scarring.

    The infused stem cells did not interfere with blood flow in the heart or cause potentially fatal erratic heartbeats called ventricular arrhythmias, both of which had been a concern.

    Two patients developed hematomas, an area of swelling filled with blood, after the liposuction procedure.

    Duckers notes that all the patients were white Europeans. The results are not necessarily applicable to non-whites, he says.

    The researchers have initiated a more robust phase II-III clinical trial called ADVANCE that will enroll up to 375 heart attack patients at 35 medical centers in the European Union. Patients will get one of two doses of fat-derived stem cells or placebo infusions.

    The study was funded by Cytori Therapeutics Inc.

    This study was presented at a medical conference. The findings should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

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