Bangkok - 25 May 2005 - TheraVitae Ltd., the developer and provider of VesCell, a proprietary stem cell therapy for coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure that utilizes adult stem cells harvested from the patient's own blood, held a press conference - "Cell Therapy for the Heart" on Wednesday, 25 May 2005 at the J.W. Mariott Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand.
Dr. Valentin Fulga, TheraVitae's CEO, discussed the medical and technical aspects of VesCell therapy. He went on to express TheraVitae's ongoing commitment to the Thai medical community and pledged the company's full support in Thailand's pursuit to become the premier medical hub in the Asia/Pacific region. "I'd like to express our gratitude to the members of the Thai medical community who have played an instrumental role in our development of adult stem cell therapy to treat heart disease", said Dr. Fulga. Finally, Dr. Fulga detailed TheraVitae's recent collaboration with Bangkok's Chaophya Hospital. Chaophya has emerged as a key player in the development of cellular therapy by providing a treatment venue for no-option heart disease patients seeking help from around the world.
Also on hand was Dr. Amit Patel M.D., Director of Cardiac Stem Cell Therapies at The McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Dr. Patel is currently in Bangkok training cardiac surgeons to perform a surgical procedure he developed in which TheraVitae's VesCell therapy is administered directly into the heart by way of minimal incisions in the chest. Dr. Patel presented results of a trial using a similar method, which was also presented at the 41st Annual Meeting of the Society for Thoracic Surgery in Tampa, Florida, in January 2005.
Dr. Patel described the latest techniques for treating patients with their own stem cells and the benefits of such treatments. Dr. Patel illustrated the type of heart patients currently eligible for these treatments and highlighted the results of his latest trial, "It is remarkable the level of improvement we've seen in these patients, who came to us with no other medical or surgical options available to them", he said.
Robert Clark, TheraVitae's Chairman, commented afterward, "Our message is that, unlike the cell cloning technique announced in South Korea last week, which has serious moral and ethical implications, and will probably take years to develop into a viable therapy, our technique is helping patients today."
A Natural Treatment for Heart Disease - Cell Therapy
The body has natural ways of healing itself and the cardiovascular system is no exception. Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) originate in bone marrow and then circulate in the blood vessels.
To manufacture VesCell, TheraVitae expands a small number of EPCs harvested from about 250cc of blood into a therapeutic quantity. The EPCs are injected either through a coronary artery via catheter from the leg's femoral artery or during surgery, directly into the heart muscle.
A key aspect of VesCell therapy, and what has attracted Dr. Patel and others to Thailand, is the advanced cell isolation and expansion technique that allows for the EPCs to be harvested from blood collected in a procedure similar to a common blood donation - a stark contrast to similar therapies that require painful collection of EPCs from the bone marrow which is usually taken in large amounts from the hip bone.
About Heart Diseases
Millions of people die each year from coronary artery disease. The cause of coronary artery disease is atherosclerosis - the gradual buildup of plaque and narrowing of the blood vessels that supply the heart muscle. This results in chest pain and the eventual death of heart muscle. Eventually, cardiologists and surgeons must widen the occluded artery by inflating a balloon in it or must bypass the occluded section by surgically attaching a blood vessel to circumvent the blockage. Sometimes, the heart's ability to pump blood continues to decrease due to the lack of blood supply and the diminishing amount of active (live) heart muscle. In very severe cases, the condition deteriorates until the patient is left solely with the option of a heart transplant. Since heart donors are scarce, tens of thousands of people die each year while waiting for a heart. Last year in Thailand, only one heart transplant was performed. A new option is desperately needed for these patients.
TheraVitae is an emerging healthcare company focused on using the patient's own stem cells in order to treat a variety of disorders, especially cardiovascular diseases. We are an international company, based in Bangkok, Thailand and Kiryat Weizmann, Israel, benefiting from collaborations with eminent physicians and scientists affiliated with well-known medical and academic institutions. Excellence, compassion and integrity are our credo. Only by combining the highest professional, ethical and moral standards will we achieve our patients' and our own goals - to bring them back to health.
Additional Information on Cell Therapy
36/72 PS Tower, 21/Fl., Sukhumvit 21, Klongtoey Nua, Bangkok 10110
Phone: 02-664-4290/3 Fax: 02-664-42-89
About Chaophya Hospital Heart Center
The Heart Center at Chaophya Hospital is a modern facility offering advanced care to cardiac patients. It is comprised of experienced physicians, pediatricians, surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and supporting technicians all working in unison to treat and rehabilitate heart patients. The Heart Center facilities include The Heart Clinic, C.C.U., I.C.C.U., cardiac catheterization room, operating room, and rehabilitation center.
113/44 Soi Rungpracha Boromrachachonnee Road
Bangkok Noi, Bangkok 10700
Telephone: 02-434-1111, 02-884-7000