New technology may help heal hearts

August 21, 2008 7:27:16 PM PDT
For decades doctors have attacked heart disease with a combination of drugs and surgery. But now, a Bay Area company is experimenting with a unique therapy that may help a damaged heart heal itself.

Mesh fabric is so thin, you can see right through it. But wrapped on to a human heart, it allows doctors to deliver a powerful new treatment that may help revitalize diseased organs.

"When we put the patch on, the patch grows new blood vessels in a matter of weeks into the heart," said Theregen President Michael Siani-Rose.

Siani-rose is president of San Francisco-based Theregen. He says the mesh is saturated with young living cells called fibroblasts, which deliver growth factors directly to the coronary tissue.

"This is feeding the surface of the heart, which actually grows right into the heart muscle, to Which feeds it better, supplies more blood, more oxygen. And in addition, the heart muscle wall regenerates, so we see better pumping action locally, underneath our patch," said Siani-Rose.

The patches are sold under the commercial name Anginera, were tested on patients who also received heart bypass surgery. But the results were so promising, the company believes the technique may someday be used as a stand-alone treatment.

They say doctors can place the Anginera patches using a method less invasive that open chest surgery, making it a potential therapeutic option for patients diagnosed with damaged arteries or failing tissue.

"There's a progressive disease called heart failure, irreversible, no sure, and we've found the patch actually reverses some of the symptoms of that," said Siani-Rose.

Some of that optimism comes from animal studies, which produced better recovery after heart attacks. Theregen plans to start the second phase of their clinical trial by next year, with the goal of having Anginera patches on the market within five years.


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