Adult Stem Cell Therapy Blog

Take heart, pioneer of stem cell therapy will be here

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 - Stem Cell Guru

Last week, the 'Mumbai Mirror' carried a lead article on the upcoming visit of Dr Amit Patel to Mumbai, India. As grateful as we are that both Theravitae and our proprietary treatment, VesCell, were highlighted in the article we would like to clarify three important points:

1) Treatment using VesCell does not require the painful extraction of bone marrow in order to obtain stem cells. A simple, painless donation of 250cc of the patient's blood is all that is required.

2) Treatment costs are almost 50% lower than the figure of $60,000 mentioned in the article.

3) Over 80 patients have now successfully been treated in Bangkok, Thailand using VesCell.

Take heart, pioneer of stem cell therapy will be here

Indian-born doc will discuss his unique treatment, wherein stem cells drawn from a patient’s body are used to strengthen his or her heart muscle

Joeanna Rebello

Dr Amit Patel, one of the pioneers of stem cell therapy for heart disease, a revolutionary treatment currently being researched in the US, is coming to Mumbai in February to discuss the unique treatment and help Indian patients. Patel, 33, a doctor of Indian origin is director of the Cardiac Stem Cell Therapies at The McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He will be addressing a conference hosted by the Reliance Life Sciences Centre (Navi Mumbai) on February 27 and 28.

Dr Patel and his team are developing a procedure whereby adult stem cells from a patient's bone marrow or blood are injected directly into the damaged tissues of the heart.

“I will highlight my method of treatment with references to how my patients are faring. I will also address ways of helping patients in India. If people here are open to the method, we can begin treating Indians within the next six to twelve months,” Dr Patel said. His visit could also result in a possible collaboration between the Pittsburgh Medical Center and the Life Science Centre, although the doctor maintained that he was only coming down in his capacity as a speaker. Incidentally, the Center is the first in America to receive approval from the US FDA to conduct clinical trials of adult stem cells injected directly into the heart during surgery.

How stem cells repair hearts

Stem cells are undifferentiated cells, which retain the ability to differentiate into other cell types. This allows them to act as a repair system for the body, replenishing other cells. Adult stem cells are found throughout the body — in the brain, bones, muscle, skin and blood. When a person suffers from heart failure, it means his or her heart cannot pump blood efficiently. In the stem cell process researched by Dr Patel and his team, stem cells are extracted from the patient’s hip bone and injected into the heart at 25 to 30 sites, where the heart muscle is damaged. The cells help build new arteries, thus helping the heart to pump more blood.

Dr Patel uses a technology called VesCell (from an American-Israeli company called TheraVitae). Although the procedure is still being evaluated, it has been successfully applied in 35 operations. However, the procedure can be performed only in Bangkok and costs around $60,000 (Rs 26,40,600). And Dr Patel warns that the procedure is not effective for everyone. “I have been selective about the patients I have treated — these are ones with severe heart disease, but no other medical problem like cancer or diabetes, or kidney or liver failure. A patient I treated four years ago has recovered fully (I used his bone marrow stem cells), and another that I treated with blood stem cells seven months ago has also shown progress. After clinical observation, these patients appear to be safe — no abnormal growth or side effects.”

Universal acclaim

Several leading publications, including Time Magazine and the Boston Globe, and news channels like ABC News, have recognised Dr Patel’s path-breaking work, and acclaimed his method as significant in stem cell application to the human condition. He has been active in this area of research since 1994, when he graduated from Youngstown State University.


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