This article originally appeared in Connections, a magazine
published for physicians and the community by UMass Memorial Medical
UMass Memorial Medical Center is one of 37 centers in the country participating
in the Osiris Phase II Stem Cell Trial for acute myocardial infarction (AMI).
The Medical Center was selected in part because of expert cardiac care provided
in our Catheterization Labs that has helped lead to a number one ranking in New
England by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for surviving a heart
attack. This is the second year in a row the Medical Center received this
The standard treatment for AMI usually includes immediate perfusion, optimal
pain relief, oxygen, aspirin or other anticoagulants, beta blockers, nitrates
and ACE inhibitors. Yet, because only a minority of patients reach the hospital
within the time window for myocardial rescue, many patients still develop heart
failure (CHF) even if they manage their tobacco use, hypertension, lipid levels,
diabetes, weight and exercise.
Although the medical management for CHF may improve symptoms and slow disease
progression, this treatment cannot restore a functioning myocardium. A therapy
that could improve the myocardial remodeling process and reduce the incidence or
severity of CHF following an AMI would provide a significant benefit.
The study tests the effectiveness and safety of Prochymal, a proprietary
formulation of adult stem cells designed to provide therapeutic benefit by
controlling inflammation, promoting tissue regeneration and preventing scar
"Ideally we would like to see this study result in a new modality for
improving heart function and clinical outcomes in heart attack patients, in
addition to existing medical therapy," said Daniel Fisher, MD, PhD, principal
investigator of the study and director of interventional cardiology at UMass
Memorial. The study will enroll approximately 220 patients following their first
heart attack and explore the use of Prochymal in conjunction with current
standards of care to improve heart function. The stem cells are obtained from
the bone marrow of healthy adult donors.
"What is very appealing about this study is that participants do not have to
undergo a bone marrow extraction or blood draw to obtain the stem cells," Dr.
Fisher said. "These cells, taken from healthy donors, avoid rejection because
they lack surface markers that trigger rejection."