Adult stem cells at the heart of groundbreaking research

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE)- Millions of dollars are coming to the University of Louisville for research that could dramatically improve the treatments for heart disease. It's a 7 year, 3.4 Million dollar grant from the National Institutes of Health. And adult stems cells are at the heart of these new clinical trials.

The NIH is teaming up top heart centers around the country to conduct early clinical trials of adult stem cell therapies in patients with heart disease. UofL is among the centers the NIH selected from a field of at least 30 grant applicants. The Cardiac Cell Therapy Research Network (CCTRN) included UofL, Standford University, Texas Heart Institute, Minneapolis Heart Institute, University of Florida, University of Miami and Indiana University.

Dr. Roberto Bolli is leading the research at UofL. During his 18 year tenure, he's generated more than $100 million in grants for research from the NIH.  

"The beauty of this network, we are not going to restrict the studies to patients with only heart failure. We will treat all the major cardiovascular conditions including heart attacks and peripheral vascular disease" Bolli said.

Unlike a previous study on heart failure, which produced great success using cardiac stem cells, Dr. Bolli says in this new research, "we will draw stem cells mostly from the bone marrow. The bone marrow is a very rich source of many different types of stem cells" Bolli said.

The trials will be open to people in Kentuckiana. They are experimental, but with already proven data on stem cell results, "It's not hype, it is really hope" said Bolli. "I think stem cells will likely become a routine part of treatment of cardiovascular disease within next few years."

These new stem cell therapies will be performed at Jewish Hospital.

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