An Indian-origin researcher in the US is leading trials on an experimental “Frankenstein” technology that may be able to repair scarred heart tissue and stop – or even reverse – heart failure.
Amit Patel at University Hospital in Salt Lake City and other researchers have been trying to figure out how to regenerate dead heart muscle in patients who have had massive heart attacks.
The technology includes mixing the “extracellular matrix” powder – a mixture of proteins and molecules isolated from heart muscle – with saline or water. The mixture is then injected into the patient’s dead heart muscle via catheter.
The researchers then wait three to six months to see if the patient’s heart muscle regenerates,Sources said.
Though it may sound like something out of “Frankenstein,” Tim Henry, the director of cardiology at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute said the technology – inspired by stem cell research – is “within our reach.”
Patel added that endocardial matrix therapy would likely be cheaper than either stem cells or gene therapy because it’s an off-the-shelf product that can be widely produced and delivered in an easy clinical procedure.
To carry out the procedure, Patel recruited a Utah woman who had a heart attack six months ago that reduced her overall heart blood pumping ability from 60 per cent – which is considered normal – to less than 45 per cent.
Patel’s team made a virtual of the inside of the patient’s heart to figure out where her dead heart muscle was located, marked 18 injection sites, then used a catheter to inject the matrix into her heart. The procedure took less than two hours.
“This first patient was able to be done awake and safe and she’s already back to work. She went home the next day,” Patel said. Eighteen patients will eventually undergo the experimental procedure.
Doctors at Minneapolis Heart Institute in Minnesota, the only other site approved to test the new technology, performed the procedure on a second patient last week. The patients will be examined three and six months out for evidence of muscle regrowth and revived heart function. If everything goes well, Patel estimates the technology could become approved for clinical use within five to seven years