Article Date: 21 Jul 2009 Medical News Today

In a proof-of-concept study, Mayo Clinic investigators have demonstrated that induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells can be used to treat heart disease. iPS cells are stem cells converted from adult cells. In this study, the researchers reprogrammed ordinary fibroblasts, cells that contribute to scars such as those resulting from a heart attack, converting them into stem cells that fix heart damage caused by infarction. The findings appear in the current online issue of the journal Circulation.

“This study establishes the real potential for using iPS cells in cardiac treatment,” says Timothy Nelson, M.D., Ph.D., first author on the Mayo Clinic study. “Bioengineered fibroblasts acquired the capacity to repair and regenerate infarcted hearts.”

This is the first application of iPS-based technology for heart disease therapy. Previously iPS cells have been used on only three other disease models: Parkinson’s disease, sickle cell anemia and hemophilia A. The ultimate goal is to use iPS cells derived from patients to repair injury. Using a person’s own cells in the process eliminates the risk of rejection and the need for anti-rejection drugs. One day this regenerative medicine strategy may alleviate the demand for organ transplantation limited by donor shortage, the researchers say.

“This iPS innovation lays the groundwork for translational applications,” comments Andre Terzic, M.D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic physician-scientist and senior author. “Through advances in nuclear reprogramming, we should be able to reverse the fate of adult cells and customize ‘on demand’ cardiovascular regenerative medicine.”

From Damage to Repair

The Mayo Clinic team genetically reprogrammed fibroblasts via a “stemness-related” human gene set to dedifferentiate into an iPS cell capable of then redifferentiating into new heart muscle. When transplanted into damaged mouse hearts, iPS cells engrafted after two weeks, and after four weeks significantly contributed to improved structure and function of the damaged heart, in contrast to ineffective ordinary fibroblasts.

Compared to non-engineered fibroblasts, the iPS cells:

— Restored heart muscle performance lost after the heart attack

— Stopped progression of structural damage in the damaged heart

— Regenerated tissue at the site of heart damage

The Mayo research team included Almudena Martinez-Fernandez, Pharm.D.; Satsuki Yamada, M.D., Ph.D.; Carmen Perez-Terzic, M.D., Ph.D.; and Yasuhiro Ikeda, D.V.M., Ph.D.; along with Lois Rowe and Jonathan Nesbitt. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, American Heart Association, American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, National Hemophilia Foundation, La Caixa Foundation Graduate Program, Marriott Individualized Medicine Program, Marriott Heart Disease Research Program, and Mayo Clinic.


I’ve spent most of the day resting, although did have a nice brunch out with Ilana and Keith and just got back from a poolside BBQ at the hotel. Temps only in the high 70’s are magnificent! Weller Health confirmed to me today that my therapy was unique to me and I was the first to get this specific approach. We are all going to be watching the next six weeks to monitor progress. And I will be working with Weller management on updating their fundraising business plan. I hope to prove that I am one of soon-to-be thousands benefiting from these new therapies. Maybe we are the ones destined to become the “army” that goes to Washington and lobbies our government to help push this thru the FDA…?

Check out this interesting news story!

Nice to see another doctor dedicated to getting promising therapies to the patients without wasting time. Not so good to see it takes the US Army to get the FDA to move fast! So what kind of army do WE need to build in order to have the same clout?  Whether you have ALS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or Cancer, stem cells are our salvation.

So what army do YOU belong to, and how are you doing your duty to move obstacles out of the way of progress?

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”.
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

You don’t have to be a dedicated bible reader to renew your attitude with this uplifting piece.

After my stem cell therapy yesterday, I had a good dinner and a decent night’s sleep. I woke up this morning feeling back to normal. My normal, that is…. But after the shock to my body from the surgical procedures yesterday, I take this as an excellent bounceback sign. We’ll know more over the next six weeks as I will be taking weekly special injections at home as part of the updated therapy process. It appears I may be the first person to be treated to this extent.

We’re on the edge of a new frontier with Stem Cell Therapy. This new research holds great promise for so many people. Unfortunately, current medical insurance policies do not include Stem Cell Therapy. But for many, time truly does matter and we can’t afford to waste any. Rich is a pioneer with the stem cell therapy he is undergoing today, and his journey will benefit us all one day.

If you would like to help defray some of Rich’s medical costs, please click on Fundraising for Rich! at the top of this page.

Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers for Rich.

Liz Mackney


Hi everyone, this is Rich’s sister Liz. As many of you know, today is a big day for Rich — Stem Cell Therapy at the Nepsis Institute in Mexico!

Taking a lead from Rich himself, let us all focus on a positive mental attitude and send our collective good thoughts Rich’s way today!

Wherever you are, I’m sure Rich can feel it!


They both did great shuttling me to San Diego in our minivan laden with luggage and my supplies for this stem cell therapy tomorrow. My Dad and Maria flew home to NY at the same time. As fate would have it, they walked into their house exactly the same time we walked into our hotel room. We picked up the phone to call each other at the same time!

ALS and ALS TDI invited me and my nephew Zack to a D’backs baseball game to continue to rememberthe 70th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s retirement. We got to meet many ALS families and share info. What a great day!

Me and Zack

Me and Zack

Me Chip and Family

Me Chip and Family

Rich, Chip and Jo (from ALSTDI)

Rich, Chip and Jo (from ALSTDI)


With the purchase this week of our wheelchair carrier for the minivan, fitting the minivan into the garage is now a challenge. If we had a team of 4-6 people some Saturday or Sunday morning in early August, we could do a garage rearrange in under three hours and accommodate the longer minivan. Cold drinks and big lunch are included. Good design/layout eye for on-the-fly decisions is a plus! Give us a call at 480-614-2716 to volunteer. Or put together a team yourself and let’s work out a date!

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