The Power of Advanced Medicine
Using a patient’s own bone marrow cells, we can now regenerate healthy heart muscle after a heart attack. It’s as complicated as it sounds, and it’s equally profound in the realm of regenerative medicine.
Explore how UK HealthCare’s Gill Heart & Vascular Institute is at the forefront of regenerative medicine, putting us on the verge of a potentially world-changing breakthrough that doesn’t just treat damage, but actually heals the heart itself.
IT ALL STARTED IN A HALLWAY
The genesis of this project was nothing short of fortuitous. Because UK HealthCare is one of the few institutions where clinical, research, and other expertise are housed under the same roof, a chance encounter becomes more likely.
You cannot do this type of research as a single person. It's a huge deal and a huge commitment, from the leadership in the university and in the hospital and the medical school. Everyone works well together, everyone is supportive—this makes it an ideal place for someone like me and for this type of therapy. It's not just one physician or one scientist. It's a whole system... –Dr. Ahmed Abdel-Latif
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM WE’RE SOLVING?
There’s more to a heart attack than the event itself. When you have a heart attack, the heart suffers irreparable damage—the symptoms of which will reveal themselves for years after. These symptoms, commonly known as heart failure, are what we’re aiming to solve.
Instead of managing treatment for the remainder of a patient’s life, we’re using precision, regenerative medicine to heal the damaged tissue. This not only improves the functional capacity of a patient’s most vital organ, it significantly improves one’s quality of life. It’s here we believe this treatment will have its most profound and far reaching effects.
WHAT IS REGENERATIVE MEDICINE?
The field of regenerative medicine is exciting, but not new. The first successful regenerative therapies—such as bone marrow and organ transplants—took place in the seventies. But new technologies and information have opened doors for treatments that seemed novel only months ago.
In short, regenerative medicine has the potential to fully heal damaged tissues and organs, offering solutions and hope for people who have conditions previously determined as beyond repair.
What's good about UK... is that we are able to offer this therapy to our patients early, before it becomes a standard of care. So patients at UK will have access to this therapy through clinical trials. They will have access to this therapy before anyone else. –Dr. Ahmed Abdel-Latif
HOW DOES THIS PROCEDURE WORK?
What we're trying to do is focusing a specific area of regrowing blood vessels to heart muscle that doesn't have enough blood flow. And theoretically, what we're doing is taking something that should turn into scar tissue, and let that be muscle. And if we can do that, it'll explode this field in cardiovascular surgery and in cardiovascular medicine. –Dr. Sekela
WHO IS THIS PROCEDURE FOR?
Eventually, everyone. Because we’re still in the early days of this therapy, only certain, qualifying patients will have access to it. But the prevailing theory is that all patients suffering from severe heart failure will qualify for this procedure within a few years. And down the road, those suffering from more mild cases could have their symptoms addressed as well.
WHAT IS THE POTENTIAL IMPACT?
This procedure could easily help millions of people. In the U.S. alone, there are billions of dollars being spent on care for heart failure patients. These types of therapies will not only improve lifestyle and life expectancy for patients with severe heart disease, but will have a profound economic impact as well.
If this procedure is successfully implemented, it could do more than change cardiovascular treatment—it could shift a cornerstone in medicine itself.
HOW LONG BEFORE THIS IS STANDARD PROCEDURE?
Experts estimate it that regenerative therapies like this one will be the standard of care within 5 to 10 years. There is a litany of factors that could play into this, such as governmental influence, the pace of clinical trials, and funding. Nevertheless, regenerative medicine is undoubtedly seeing advancements by the day—and UK HealthCare is at the forefront.