Lifewatch: Stem Cell Injections

MIAMI-- Doctors in Miami are performing groundbreaking surgery involving stem cell injections which may help damaged hearts.

In this new procedure, stem cells are harvested from a patient's bone marrow, carefully separated, prepared, and then amplified.

Six weeks later, the cells or a placebo are injected into the patient's own heart during surgery.

"In a very novel study of stem cell therapy for patients with congestive heart failure," said Cardiovascular Chief Dr. Joshua Hare from the University of Miami.

Rodolfo Hernadez, 56-years-old, recovered in intensive care after the procedure.  He is the first of 45 patients to be enrolled in the adult stem cell study, funded by the National Institutes of Health.

"There will 3 groups of 15 patients. One group will receive a placebo. One group will receive a low dose of their own stem cells, and the other group will receive a high dose," said Dr. Hare.

Candidates for this trial are patients who need coronary bypass surgery, and who have had a previous heart attack with damage to heart tissue affecting its ability to pump.

MRI scans will be used to measure whether participants demonstrate improvement in heart function over 18 months.

"The MRI images will allow us to look very specifically to see whether or not we have regrown new heart muscle or not," said Dr. Hare.

This is just one of three studies launching in 2008 that look at different ways stem cells could be used to regenerate the human heart.

Reported by Kristy Ondo