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Bone marrow stem cells suspended in X-ray-visible microbubbles dramatically improve the body’s ability to build new blood vessels in the upper leg — providing a potential future treatment for those with peripheral arterial disease or PAD, say researchers at the Society of Interventional Radiology’s 35th Annual Scientific Meeting in Tampa, Fla.

“Bone marrow stem cells, which have the ability to renew themselves, could unlock the door to treat peripheral arterial disease (PAD) with cell-based methods. They offer a future novel method to help PAD patients by increasing the number of blood vessels to replace or augment those choked off by plaque buildup,” said Frank Wacker, M.D., an interventional radiologist at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md. “The future hope is to use adult stem cells extracted from a healthy donor’s bone marrow and inject the cells into the patients’ legs where circulation problems exist, stimulating the growth of new or more blood vessels in the leg, thus improving circulation,” noted veterinary radiologist Dara L. Kraitchman, V.M.D., Ph.D. “Using an animal model, we found that stem cells in X-ray–visible microbubbles dramatically improve the ability to build new blood vessels when a blood vessel in the upper leg has been suddenly closed or occluded,” said Kraitchman, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. “With this treatment, the body was able to provide a more normal blood supply to the toes—possibly offering the hope of dramatically reducing—or avoiding—amputation. Treatment could also be personalized for individual patients,” she added. Using X-ray techniques performed by interventional radiologists, researchers viewed the new blood vessels and validated their results by examining the new vessels that formed via microscope, she said. Headline links to PDF on SIR website.

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