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Skeletal muscle cells transplanted into human heart during bypass surgery.

For the first time in the United States, researchers have transplanted skeletal myoblasts taken from a patient's arm muscle into his damaged heart during coronary artery bypass grafting.

"In this [phase I] study, we are testing whether transplanting skeletal muscle cells into damaged myocardial tissue will improve overall cardiac performance and prevent deterioration in cardiac function," said principal investigator Robb MacLellan, MD of the University of California at Los Angeles Medical School.

A 65-year-old man who had suffered a heart attack was the first US patient to receive the experimental therapy during quadruple bypass grafting. According the MacLellan, the procedure, which involves harvesting muscle cells from the biceps or leg, expanding them in culture, and injecting them into the damaged myocardium during surgery, went smoothly. Twelve heart attack patients will be treated in all and followed for 2 years with positron-emission tomography (PET), echocardiography, and other tests to determine whether the transplanted cells have engrafted, how long the cells remain alive, and what effect they have on cardiac function, particularly in the transplanted area. If the technique proves successful, MacLellan said researchers will explore the use of other types of cells.

"Even though we have started with skeletal muscle, it is not clear that that will be the best cell type to use," he said. "The reason we chose skeletal muscle is because the patient can act as his own donor, eliminating the ethical issues involved with the use of certain types of stem cells.

MacLellan envisions the procedure becoming an adjunct therapy for myocardial infarction. "The hope is that we can start rebuilding hearts as soon as they are damaged and prevent the need for cardiac transplantation," he said.

The Cleveland Clinic (OH) and the University of Pittsburgh in Philadelphia also are participating in the trial.
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Title Annotation:University of California at Los Angeles Medical School
Comment:Skeletal muscle cells transplanted into human heart during bypass surgery.(University of California at Los Angeles Medical School)
Publication:Transplant News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 30, 2001
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