DOD awards $10 million grant for cardiac cell therapy trial to fight heart failure

The Department of Defense (DOD) awarded a $10 million grant to researchers at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute for a cardiac cell therapy trial for patients with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.

In March, researchers published a study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Basic and Translational Science that showed the heart-pumping function returned in laboratory rats with hypertension and heart failure with preserved ejection fraction after they received infusions of cardiosphere-derived cells.

Based on those results, the FDA approved the upcoming trial in which patients will receive infusions of cardiac-derived cells at the Ralph H. Johnson Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, South Carolina.

Capricor, a biotechnology company, will work with lead researcher Michael R. Zile, MD, of the Medical University of South Carolina, and investigators from Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles. Capricor manufactures CAP-1002, the name of its cardiosphere-derived cells from human donor-quality hearts.

“We don’t know all the details of how it works, so there is exciting science to be done,” Eduardo Marbán, MD, PhD, director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, said in a news release. “But we already have good reason to believe that [cardiac-derived cells] may be effective against a condition that currently has no approved treatments. There is an enormous unmet medical need for these patients. Symptoms might improve after taking diuretics, but currently, we do not have anything to treat the underlying condition. If cardiac-derived cells prove effective, millions of patients and their families will benefit.”