Local cancer, heart studies to begin

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The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and Allegheny General Hospital's heart center are enrolling patients for new research studies, each announced today.

The UPCI has joined the Western Pennsylvania Cancer Institute and a group of cancer centers in Europe and Israel for a phase III study assessing the safety and success of using a derivative of umbilical stem cells to treat blood cancers, including leukemia and lymphoma. It is called the ExCell research study.

The investigational product, StemEx, would be used instead of bone marrow transplants, a life-saving treatment for many kinds of leukemia and lymphoma, but one for which it is difficult to find a patient match. The researchers believe and are trying to prove it is easier to match umbilical cord blood to a patient than bone marrow.

At Allegheny General, Gerald McGinnis Cardiovascular Institute researchers are exploring a new technology for the treatment of patients who are on the waiting list for heart transplants because of advanced congestive heart failure.

The DuraHeart Left-Ventricular Assist System is a third-generation class of artificial mechanical support technology referred to as left ventricular assist devices. It is surgically implanted to help the weakened left ventricle pump blood through the aortic valve into the aorta, which branches to carry blood all over the body.

Pohla Smith can be reached at psmith@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1228.


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