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Texas Heart Institute Physician Scientists Receive NIH Grant

Physician scientists at the Texas Heart Institute at St Luke’s Episcopal Hospital (THI at St Luke’s) have been awarded a grant of almost $1.5m by the National Institutes of Health for research into treatments for patients with end-stage heart failure that would combine heart-assist devices and adult stem-cell treatments.

The NIH grant is expected to provide more than $740,000 during the first year of the research project, and just over $749,000 during the second year.

THI said that physician scientists are expecting that the new research will lead to improvements in both areas of treatment. Also among the goals of the research will be to clarify which therapy or combinations of therapy will best enhance new blood flow and improved function in damaged areas of the heart. Scientists also expect to design the protocols for eventual human trials.

Igor Gregoric, director of the THI at St Luke’s Center for Cardiac Support and one of the principal investigators in the research, said: “We certainly want this research to lead to new and better treatments for so many people who are out of options, and we’ll work very hard to reach that goal.

“We are optimistic that resting the heart with the LVAD (heart-assist device) after cell therapy will lead to improved cardiac function and patient survival.”

Emerson Perin, director of Stem Cell Center at THI and one of the principal investigators on the project, said: “We are excited about the potential for combining stem cells with LVADs, two powerful therapies in the treatment of patients with end-stage heart failure.”

Biswajit Kar, heart failure and transplant cardiologist at THI and also one of the principal investigators of the project, said: “We certainly want this research to lead to new and better treatments for so many people who are out of options, and we’ll work very hard to reach that goal.”