is to head a five-year international multi-centre study which, with six
clinical departments from throughout Europe taking part, will help
introduce stem cell treatment as a standard treatment. Previous studies
from Rigshospitalet have shown that stem cells from bone marrow or fatty
tissue (adipose tissue) can be beneficial for patients with reduced
heart pumping power following coronary artery disease. However, up to
now stem cell production has not been sufficient to complete
international, standardised studies. Extensive funding from the EU and a
radical improvement in the method of production have now made it
possible for cardiologists to take a step further.
Rapid formation of stem cells
Among other things, with help
from international collaboration partners, the new facilities at the
Department of Clinical Immunology at Rigshospitalet have accelerated
production of stem cells.
“The logistical challenges in culturing sufficient numbers of cells
of uniform quality have been a barrier for a long time. But now things
are different. Previously we used cells from patients’ own bone marrow
and we had to grow them in plastic bottles for 6-8 weeks at a time, in
order to obtain adequate amounts of cells for the same patient, but now
we have started growing cells from the fatty tissue of healthy donors,
which we store in a cell bank. This means that we can now deliver enough
stem cells to treat 50 patients with cells from one single donor – and
in a shorter time and of improved quality,” said Prof. Jens Kastrup,
Consultant Surgeon at the Department of Cardiology, Rigshospitalet.
“In reality this means that we can start regular deliveries of
high-quality stem cells, initially to other cardiac departments in
Denmark and abroad, but later to treat other groups of patients as well.
For example, an obvious area to examine is stem cell treatment for
autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s disease.
Stem cell treatment must be easily accessible
combination of culturing cells in bioreactors developed in Belgium,
addition of a new US-developed blood platelet product, and a new type of
organisation and production at the hospital, has made the route from
donor to treatment much shorter. In Jens Kastrup’s opinion, this is
vital if stem cell treatment is to become more widespread:
“If stem cell treatment is to be implemented at hospitals, it must be
an easy and everyday treatment. It’s as simple as that. If the process
becomes too complex logistically, nothing will happen. Therefore, we
have tried to concentrate on how we can remove the obstacles which may
stand in the way of developing and spreading stem-cell treatment. And
organising cell banks close to hospitals is probably one of the ways to
introduce a standardised stem-cell treatment option. Therefore I am very
pleased that we now have facilities and funding to initiate a large
international study with our skilled colleagues at cardiac departments
abroad,” said Jens Kastrup.
This project is one of three large research projects which have now
been launched in the Capital Region of Denmark and it is being financed
by the EU framework programme for innovation and research; Horizon 2020.
Cardiac departments from Germany, Poland, Austria, the Netherlands and
Slovenia are taking part in the project, which is to start in January
Professor Jens Kastrup, Consultant Surgeon
The Heart Centre, Rigshospitalet
Telephone no: +45 3545 2819/3545 2817