Cardiac Stem Cell Therapies

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in the United States and the world. Heart failure commonly results from irreparable damage to the myocardial tissue, frequently from a myocardial infarction (heart attack). Innovation in regenerative medicine and stem cell therapy has provided optimism towards repairing tissue and reversing myocardial injuries.  However, stem cell therapies have failed to produce durable functional recovery.  Over the past 17+ years there has been 300+ clinical trials involving stem cells for the treatment of heart disease (clinicaltrial.gov).  There are currently 0 FDA approved cell therapies for cardiac indications.  While many cell types and delivery methods have been tested in these trials, one commonality remains; therapeutic cells are not retained in the heart.

 

The Unique Challenges of Stem Cell Therapy in the Heart

Contraction

Injected cells are forced out the needle track or rapidly egress into the lymphatic system

Anoikis

Programmed cell death due to improper integrin adhesion

Inhospitable environment

Ischemic tissue (low oxygen)

The combination of these challenges leads to <5% cell retention 24 hours post-cardiac injection. An improved method for retaining therapeutic cells to the heart is needed to increase cell retention and usher cell therapies for cardiac indication into clinical reality.