| NHLBI Funds New Centers for Cell-Based Therapy
Program Emphasizes Clinical Applications
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes
of Health has awarded the first three grants in a new research program on cell-based
therapy of heart, lung, and blood diseases.
The program, Specialized Centers for Cell-Based Therapy for Heart, Lung, and
Blood Diseases, involves both basic and clinical research but is heavily focused
on clinical applications of cell-based therapy.
“Recent advances in stem cell biology and transplantation have set the stage
for the next level of research emphasis: a program that emphasizes the translation
of knowledge about cell-based therapy into clinical practice,” said NHLBI Director
Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D.
According to Dr. Nabel, the $6.5 million program is anticipated to stimulate
clinical research efforts on important public health problems for those with
heart, lung, and blood diseases. The program will attempt to solve some of the
problems and challenges of cell-based therapy including repair of damaged heart
muscle, reducing immune complications due to graft versus host disease, and enhancing
the interaction of adult stem cells and their tissue environment. Many of the
5-year studies will begin with preclinical animal or laboratory research to support
an Investigational New Drug Application submission to the FDA followed by Phase
I and II clinical studies for safety and effectiveness, respectively.
The centers awarded the grants and the principal investigators are:
- Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX (Malcolm Brenner, M.D., Ph.D.) This
group will focus on two clinical studies. In one study, the scientists will
genetically modify donor immune cells used in stem cell therapy for treatment
of patients with cancer and other diseases. The donor cells will be enhanced
to speed recovery and reduce the effects of graft versus host disease, a potential
complication of stem cell transplantation. The other clinical study involves
modification of immune cells used in stem cell transplants to protect the recipients
from the viral infections that are so common in immune compromised patients.
A basic research study will investigate potential therapies using stem cells
in the heart.
- Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD (Joshua Hare, M.D.) This research
team will study the development of stem cell-based therapies to regenerate
the heart and to reverse heart failure in patients with ischemic heart disease.
The team will initially study the use of bone-marrow derived mesenchymal stem
cells as a treatment for ischemia (reduced blood flow to the heart). Mesenchymal
stem cells have the potential to develop into mature cells that produce fat,
cartilage, bone, tendons, and muscle and have been shown to reduce heart damage
in animals following a heart attack. In future years, the team will also study
the use of human cardiac stem cells grown from small pieces of human heart
tissue with the goal of delivering them back to patients following a heart
- Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA (David Scadden, M.D.) This project
team will focus on the specialized microenvironments where stem cells reside,
targeting them to achieve stem cell therapies and tissue regeneration. Emphasis
will be placed on the blood stem cell with laboratory and clinical studies
using proteins to alter the stem cell microenvironment in the bone marrow.
Treatment trials of stem cell therapies for individuals with hematologic cancers
such as lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and multiple myeloma will be the initial
clinical studies performed.
- The EMMES Corporation, Rockville, MD (Shelly Carter, Sc.D.) EMMES will serve
as the coordinating center for the program and will work with the Specialized
Centers on establishing useful standard protocols for the emerging new field
of cell-based therapies.
To interview an NHLBI spokesperson about this program, contact the NHLBI Communications
Office at 301-496-4236. To interview Dr. Brenner, contact Ross Tomlin in the
Office of Public Affairs at Baylor College of Medicine at (713) 798-7973; to
interview Dr. Hare, contact David March at Johns Hopkins at 410-955-1534; to
interview Dr. Scadden, contact Sue McGreevey at Massachusetts General Hospital
Public Affairs at 617-724-2764; to contact Dr. Carter, call Sandi Sykes at 301-251-1161.
NHLBI is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Federal Government’s
primary agency for biomedical and behavioral research. NIH is a component of
the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NHLBI press releases and
publications, including background on cell-based therapies, can be found online
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research
Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of
the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary Federal
agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical
research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common
and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.