National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


The program, Specialized Centers for Cell-Based Therapy (SCCT) for Heart, Lung, and Blood Diseases, involves both basic and clinical research but is heavily focused on clinical applications of cell-based therapy.

“Recent advances in cell biology and transplantation have set the stage for the next level of research emphasis: a program that emphasizes the translation of knowledge about cell-based therapy into clinical practice,” said NHLBI Director Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D.

According to Dr. Nabel, the $6.5 million program is to stimulate clinical research efforts on important public health problems for those with heart, lung, and blood diseases. The program will attempt to solve some of the problems and challenges of cell-based therapy including repair of damaged heart muscle, reducing immune complications due to graft versus host disease, and enhancing the interaction of cells and their tissue environment. Many of the 5-year studies will begin with preclinical animal or laboratory research to support an Investigational New Drug Application submission to the FDA followed by Phase I and II clinical studies for safety and effectiveness, respectively.

The centers awarded the grants and the principal investigators are:

  • Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX (Malcolm Brenner, M.D., Ph.D.) This group will focus on two clinical studies. In one study, the scientists will genetically modify donor immune cells used in cell therapy for treatment of patients with cancer and other diseases. The donor cells will be enhanced to speed recovery and reduce the effects of graft versus host disease, a potential complication of cell transplantation. The other clinical study involves modification of immune cells used in cell transplants to protect the recipients from the viral infections that are so common in immune compromised patients. A basic research study will investigate potential therapies using cells in the heart.

  • Johns Hopkins University/University of Miami/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (Eduardo Marban, M.D., Ph.D.) This research team will study the development of cell-based therapies to regenerate the heart and to reverse heart failure in patients with ischemic heart disease. The team will initially study the use of bone-marrow derived mesenchymal cells as a treatment for ischemia (reduced blood flow to the heart). Mesenchymal cells have the potential to develop into mature cells that produce fat, cartilage, bone, tendons, and muscle and have been shown to reduce heart damage in animals following a heart attack. In future years, the team will also study the use of human cardiac cells grown from small pieces of human heart tissue with the goal of delivering them back to patients following a heart attack.

  • Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA (Henry Kronenberg, M.D.) This project team will focus on the specialized microenvironments where cells reside, targeting them to achieve cell therapies and tissue regeneration. Emphasis will be placed on the blood cell with laboratory and clinical studies using proteins to alter the cell microenvironment in the bone marrow. Treatment trials of cell therapies for individuals with hematologic cancers such as lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and multiple myeloma will be the initial clinical studies performed.
  • The EMMES Corporation, Rockville, MD (Shelly Carter, Sc.D) EMMES will serve as the coordinating center for the program and will work with the Specialized Centers on establishing useful standard protocols for the emerging new field of cell-based therapies.
Page last updated on
July 22, 2008

Website maintained by: