Researchers testing stem cell therapy for CHF

Researchers in Florida are beginning a small, early-stage human trial to test a new stem cell therapy for congestive heart failure.

The physicians are taking premature muscle cells--called myoblasts--from the patients' thighs and injecting them into their damaged heart tissue. The University of Florida's Dr. Carl Pepine says that previous studies indicate that stem cells can improve a heart's pumping ability by four to five percent. They have also reduced the size of enlarged hearts. Researchers now are trying to find the ideal stem cell for use in the procedure.

"A lot of nuances need to be worked out, and I don't want to imply that this is something that's going to happen in four or five years," Pepine said. "Eventually, you want to get to the point where you're curing people, where you're using stem cells to interrupt the disease process before it starts. Presumably, we could prevent a lot of damage from ever occurring."

South Florida biotech Bioheart plans to recruit 330 patients to test its myoblast therapy.

- read the report from the Orlando Sentinel