Northwestern UniversityConventionally, cardiovascular medicine has focused attention on restoring tissues with the help of surgery or medication. Now Northwestern Medicine physician scientists reveal to have innovated the treatment of cardiovascular disease. This, the scientists did by using the patients’ own stem cells to restore heart and vascular tissue.

The effectiveness of stem cell therapy in limb preservation for patients suffering from critical limb ischemia (CLI) was comprehended by the limb preservation study. Patients having severe obstruction of the arteries which inhibits the flow of blood to the extremes may develop CLI. Chief investigator for the study is Douglas Losordo, MD, director of the Program in Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital while Eileen M. Foell Professor of Heart Research of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine is also involved.

“Traditionally, cardiovascular medicine has focused on repairing damaged tissues with medication or surgery,” commented Losordo, also director of the Feinberg Cardiovascular Research Institute. “For some patients, their cardiovascular disease is advanced to the point that standard treatment options are not effective. Regenerative cardiovascular medicine strives to redevelop cardiac and vascular tissue and stimulate new blood supply to areas like the heart and legs by using stem cells already present in the patient’s body.”

The capability of CD34+ cells to instigate new blood vessel formation in ischemic lungs is said to have been tested by the trial. This, according to the investigators may help boost the function of perfusing and salvaging. A total of 28 patients who had been randomized at 18 sites in the U.S. were included in the phase II, double-blind placebo controlled trial. The subjects involved were apparently in the later stages of peripheral artery disease. They were also at an increased risk for amputation. Reportedly, patients in the randomized group were injected with CD34 at eight areas in the ischemic limb. They were then followed up for 12 months.

“Stem cell treatment was associated with a significant reduction in amputation rate,” mentioned Losordo. “Treatment was associated with a 50 percent reduction in the total amputation rate compared to control. Although further study is needed, these results provide evidence that CD34 cell therapy is an effective treatment for critical limb ischemia. The results of this study are encouraging and provide evidence for that stem cell therapy can significantly repair cardiac and vascular tissues.”

Over 100,000 amputations are said to be conducted annually in the United States due to CLI.

The study was to be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions in Chicago.