Change of heart: Stem-cell patient finds new life
Thomas Lankford, Arizona Republic, January 21, 2010
Stem cell therapy for heart failure has yielded positive
results in clinical trials as seen in this video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flv0RmzPyLU. Currently there are over 20
ongoing clinical trials using various types of adult stem cells in patients who
have either had a heart attack, or who have heart failure associated with poor
circulation. Dr. Nabil Dib from Arizona is so optimistic at the prospects of
stem cell therapy that he actually believes that one day stem cell therapy will
replace heart transplantation.
"Our goal is to improve the quality of life of our patients
and their survival," he said. "Cell therapy is one of the most significant steps
we've taken in cardiac medicine."
Although stem cell therapy is currently available for heart
failure outside of the United States at companies such as the Stem Cell
with positive results reported (Ichim et al. Placental mesenchymal and cord
blood stem cell therapy for dilated cardiomyopathy. Reprod Biomed Online. 2008
Jun;16(6):898-905, video of patient at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcFQeRNuPDo), Dr. Dib is actually
performing this procedure at the Gilbert Mercy Hospital in Arizona.
One of Dr. Dib's patients who was treated with stem cells
after a heart attack stated "In just a few weeks after Dib performed the
procedure on my heart in May, I could, miraculously it seemed, again pick up and
hold my 5-year-old granddaughter Ashley. I used a chain saw, which I couldn't
even crank two months earlier, to saw downed trees into fire logs. I then split
and placed the logs into stacks. In the sultry 93-degree Alabama heat, I was
wringing wet with sweat from head to toe . . . but my heart didn't skip a beat.
I can now walk miles without any shortness of breath or tightness in my chest. I
can lift up the garage door in one motion, and easily lift and pour the
five-gallons of gasoline into my farm tractor. I can walk up stairs without
Although stem cell therapy is currently offered only as
part of clinical trials, he believes that these trials will be completed within
a few years and that subsequently stem cells, after approval by the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration, will be available to the public.
Dr. Dib's original entry into the area of stem cell
transplantation began with animal studies he conducted with scientists at the
Arizona State University and the Arizona Heart Institute. In this work they
identified that specific stem cells from the skeletal muscle seem to not only
survive when implanted into hearts that have been damaged by a heart attack, but
also seem to have a regenerative effect. These studies were presented at the
American Heart Association Convention in Chicago in 2002 where he received
international recognition for this potentially new way of treating heart
Subsequent to these animal studies, Dr. Dib was chosen as
the Principle Investigator on the first clinical trial using this approach in
humans in the United States. In 2004, he received permission from the FDA to
begin this study. The process of stem cell transplantation requires only two to
three hours and the patient is usually sent home after an overnight stay in the
hospital. Recovery is a matter of days, as contrasted with three months for open
According to Dr. Dib "Stem cells in the body are programmed
to last 150 years, and the goal is to make it possible for patients to have a
better quality of life while living longer. We still have a lot of work to do,"
he said. "but doctors and scientists have to continually look forward."
Presently Dr. Dib is in collaboration with the Chandler and
Mercy Gilbert medical centers in the creation of a regenerative cardiovascular
research program that aims to restore the health of cardiac patients that have
run out of options. It is believed that research conducted will promote the use
of adult stem cells in restoring the health of those who have exhausted all
traditional medical therapies. One of the ongoing clinical trials at the Center
is being performed by the company Angioblast Systems that is using a "universal
donor" stem cell approach. The study is a blinded, randomized trial, where not
all volunteers are injected with the stem cells. The chances of receiving stem
cells versus placebo are 15 out of 20.