Henry Ford doctors test stem cell treatment for heart attacks

Jan 9, 2013

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Doctors at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit are looking into how well stem cells can repair damaged hearts.

It’s part of a national study looking into potential new treatments for people who have suffered severe heart attacks.

“We extract the patient’s stem cells directly from them themselves. And then select for a specific population of stem cells,” said Dr. Gerald Koenig, a Henry Ford cardiologist. “And then re-inject them into the heart, by way of the heart blood vessels.”

Koenig says prior research shows the stem cells release chemicals that help improve small blood vessels, which can improve the muscles that pump the heart.

“In releasing those chemicals, the stem cells are also able to transition or transform themselves into blood vessels, directly,” Koenig said.

Henry Ford researchers are the first in Michigan to perform the procedure, which is part of a blind study. Koenig said results of this research phase won’t be known for another year or so.

Henry Ford is one of several Michigan medical institutions participating in in the PreSERVE AMI Phase II research study, which includes multiple hospitals in the U.S.