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Florida Hospital Pepin Heart Institute and USF Health team up for groundbreaking cardiovascular study

TAMPA, FL (February 20, 2013) – Cardiovascular disease specialists at Florida Hospital Pepin Heart Institute and Dr. Kiran C. Patel Research Institute, affiliated with the University of South Florida, announced today they have enrolled their first two patients into a clinical trial testing a novel gene therapy for the treatment of heart failure after ischemic injury. The therapy may promote the regeneration of heart tissue by encouraging the body to deploy more stem cells to the injury site. Dr. Charles Lambert, Medical Director of Florida Hospital Pepin Heart Institute and Dr. Leslie Miller, Director of the USF Heart Institute, are leading the way for the randomized, placebo-controlled trial which spans 10 sites across the United States. The study, called the STOP-HF, will enroll 90 patients nationwide.

Heart failure (HF) can occur when the muscles of the heart become weakened and cannot pump blood sufficiently throughout the body. The injury is most often caused by inadequate blood flow to the heart resulting from chronic or acute cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks. Considerable scientific evidence has emerged over the past decade demonstrating the high therapeutic potential of regenerative medicine for a host of diseases. Heart failure is a leading cause of death, disability and hospitalization. Dr. Charles Lambert is performing the gene therapy by direct injection into the heart using an investigational system in the catheterization laboratories at Florida Hospital Pepin Heart Institute.

“Pepin Heart and Dr. Kiran C. Patel Research Institute and USF are exploring and conducting leading-edge research to develop break-through treatments long before they are even available in other facilities. Stem cells have the unique ability to develop into many different cell types, and in many tissues serve as an internal repair system, dividing essentially without limit to replenish other cells. This trial is unique in that it uses gene therapy to turn on a process leading to cell regeneration rather than simply administering stem cells directly,” said Dr. Lambert.

The Pepin Heart Institute has a history of cardiovascular stem cell research as part of the NIH sponsored Cardiac Cell Therapy Research Network (CCTRN) as well as other active cell therapy trials. Locally, the STOP-HF trial is the first of several regenerative medicine clinical trials teaming the USF Heart Institute with Florida Hospital Pepin Heart Institute, which is adjacent to the USF Health campus. “This is the beginning of a new era in cardiovascular therapies,” said Dr. Leslie Miller, national principal investigator for the trial. “Targeted gene and cell therapies delivered directly into the heart hold promise for helping to regenerate tissue, reduce injury and restore heart function. USF Health, working with our partners, will find new ways to diagnose and treat patients, with the aim of reducing and ultimately harnessing the global impact of heart disease.”