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Format: 04/20/2014
Format: 04/20/2014

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WTAE-TV: Pittsburgh Woman Participating In Trials Of Stem Cells For Heart Attack Patients

Friday, November 20th, 2009

PITTSBURGH -- Doctors describe it as a revolutionary treatment that could change the way patients who suffer heart attacks are treated and healed through the use of stem cells administered through an IV. (Link To WTAE Story)

"Did you ever wake up sleeping on your shoulder the wrong way and it hurt? Well, that's what happened to me," said heart attack patient Kathleen Caliendo.

Caliendo, who was 53 at the time, was in good health and couldn't believe she had suffered a heart attack.

But two weeks ago a blood clot broke loose and the pieces settled in her heart.

Caliendo survived and doctors asked if she would join in their study.

Two days later, they gave her something in her IV that could change the future of medicine.

"It could be miraculous. It's really exciting," said Caliendo.

Doctors are hopeful the clinical trial of Prochymal, which uses adult stem cells, could change the future.

"I fully believe that this is a paradigm change in the way that we're going to be treating heart attack patients from here out," said Dr. Robert Biederman, of Allegheny General Hospital, which is one of 38 centers in the country to join the study.

Biederman said the stem cells come from the bone marrow of healthy adult donors.

The one-time infusion takes about 40 minutes, and needs to be done within a few days of the patient suffering a heart attack.

The goal is to repair scar tissue from a heart attack, bring the heart back to its normal size and help the heart work more efficiently.

"It's a huge deal for us who haven't had heart attacks, and maybe in the future we will. Maybe someday we'll be benefitted by this approach," said Dr. Robert Biederman.

Caliendo doesn't know if they gave her the real thing or the placebo, and said her doctors won't know until phrase two of the trial is over. "I think I got them and I think I'm going to be helped by it. It could be miraculous. It's really exciting," said Caliendo.

National enrollment will include 220 patients.

Caliendo is currently the only Pittsburgh-area participant, but Allegheny General Hospital hopes to have another 16 patients treated by stem cells.

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