Clinical Cardiovascular
Stem Cell Research Program
Launched at UC San Diego Medical Center

April 17, 2007

By Leslie Franz

The University of California, San Diego Medical Center has established a new program in Clinical Cardiovascular Cell Therapy, directed by Nabil Dib, M.D., M.Sc.

Dib is an interventional cardiologist whose research focuses on the potential of using adult stem cells, obtained from the patient’s own muscle, bone marrow or blood, to treat heart disease.  Because adult stem cells can reproduce to create new cells, the hope is that by injecting these cells into a damaged heart, the scarred heart tissue will be successfully replaced or that the cells will have beneficial effects on the remaining heart tissue.

Dib, recently appointed associate clinical professor of medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine, presented results of a clinical trial in March at the American College of Cardiology meeting in New Orleans.  The study, conducted in Arizona, was designed to evaluate the safety of injecting muscle-derived stem cells directly into the hearts of patients with congestive heart failure, using a 3-dimensional guided catheter system. Previously, studies of stem cell transplants for heart disease have only been performed in patients already scheduled for open heart surgery.  In preliminary findings, Dib reported that transplanting cells using a minimally invasive catheter was safe.

Dib has developed the methods of catheter base stem cell transplantation to treat myocardial infarction using 3-dimensional guidance technology, and has edited a book on stem cell transplantation and tissue engineering for cardiovascular repair.

Through the UCSD Clinical Cardiovascular Cell Therapy program, Dib and collaborating cardiology faculty plan to conduct clinical studies in a number of areas, including the effectiveness of adult stem cell transplant as a treatment for congestive heart failure; as a way to minimize heart damage after a heart attack; and in the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) to increase blood flow to the heart for patients experiencing chest pain. 

“The objective of the Clinical Cell Therapy Program is to develop new methods to regrow heart muscle and blood vessels, and evaluate the efficacy of these methods as an approach to improving heart function in patients with a variety of heart disorders,” said Anthony DeMaria, M.D., director of the Sulpizio Family Cardiovascular Center at UC San Diego.  “This will be a multidisciplinary program that will interface with the strong basic science effort at UCSD, and be an area of emphasis of our Cardiovascular Center.   The goal is to try to restore heart muscle in patients in whom it has been irreversibly injured due to heart attack or other diseases.”

Media Contact: Leslie Franz, 619-543-6163


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