Peripheral artery disease affects tens of thousands of people. Also referred to as PAD, the disease affects blood circulation, generally in the legs resulting in sores, ulcers, and in some cases amputations. For those that are suffering, a unique clinical trial being conducted at the University of Indiana involving stem cell injections as a treatment may be the answer.
Half of the projected 10 million afflicted Americans who are diagnosed have no symptoms, but others report varying levels of pain as well as other symptoms which include numbness and sores on the legs and feet. The disease is caused by atherosclerosis which can lead to heart attack by clogging and hardening the arteries.
Dr. Michael, who is an assistant professor of surgery and a researcher at the Indiana Center for Vascular Biology and Medicine at the medical school, is leading the stem cell trial. Weight loss, eliminating smoking, and maintaining a proper diet are initial suggestions for management of the disease. Cholesterol-lowering drugs may be prescribed if appropriate. An angioplasty procedure that expands the blood vessels or an artery bypass graft may be treatment alternatives if the disease continues to progress.
However, Dr. Michael says that the surgical measures are not feasible for as many as 12 percent of those individuals afflicted, and that 30,000 to 50,000 people in the U.S. receive amputations due to PAD. The quality of life for a person fighting terminal cancer is comparable to that of someone who is severely affected by PAD.
With the potential to generate the cells that compose the lining of blood vessels, specialized descendants of stem cells called progenitor cells are being used in the IU trial. These “parent” cells can produce new specialized cells in the body when required and fall beneath the class of adult stem cells.
The patient is placed under general anesthesia and bone marrow is extracted from the patient