Research Report: Trial tests stem cell treatment for heart failure

The UCSD Medical Center is the first hospital in California to enroll patients in a multi-center clinical trial to examine the safety and feasibility of administering adult stem cells to treat congestive heart failure. The cells, derived from bone marrow, are injected by a catheter directly into the heart muscle.

This Phase 2 clinical trial will evaluate whether or not adult stems cells can be targeted to the heart muscle to repair and help improve cardiac function in patients with severe heart disease. The hope is to identify an effective, minimally invasive treatment for the growing numbers of patients in the U.S. who suffer from advanced heart failure and have no other treatment alternatives. Heart failure affects more than five million patients in the United States.

‘Data deluge’

A recent study by the International Data Corp. (IDC) said that in 2007, the amount of digital data began to exceed the amount of storage to retain it, and will continue to grow faster than storage capacity from here on. The IDC study predicts that by 2011, our “digital universe” - consisting of digitally based text, video, images, music, etc. - will be 10 times the size it was in 2006.

A blue-ribbon task force - co-chaired by Fran Berman, Ph.D., director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center at UCSD - commissioned to identify sustainable economic models to provide access to the ever-growing amount of digital information in the public interest, has issued an interim report that calls the current data-storage situation urgent.

Although not all data should be preserved, digital data within the public interest - historical documents, research data sets, YouTube videos of presidential addresses, etc. - should be retained to maintain an accurate and complete digital record of society.

Visualizing at TSRI

Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have discovered how a cell’s outer membrane pinches a little pouch (“vesicle”) from itself to bring molecules outside the cell inside - without making holes that leak fluid from either side of the membrane.

The process is possible only because a single molecule (dynamin) forms a short “collar” of proteins around a bit of the membrane that has emerged from the “parent” membrane, and then squeezes it tight, cleanly separating the new “daughter” vesicle.

Reporting in the journal Cell, the scientists describe creating a system in which they can watch the process, in real time, under a light microscope.