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Researchers Identify Instrumental Protein for Muscle Repair after Heart Attack

Date: 07.17.2012
Contact: Jennifer Farquhar, MBA Phone: (330) 375-4930

AKRON, Ohio, July 17, 2012 – Investigation led by researchers at Summa Health System and Northeast Ohio Medical University published today in Circulation, a leading cardiovascular research journal, is the first to identify a specific molecule released by adult stem cells that induces stem cell repair of the heart. The paper further demonstrates that in the absence of the heart’s ability to respond to this molecule – stromal cell derived factor-1 (SDF-1) – there is no benefit from adult stem cells.

The paper titled: Myocardial CXCR4 Expression Is Required for Mesenchymal Stem Cell Mediated Repair Following Acute Myocardial Infarction sheds light on the body’s natural stem cell repair process and stands to help scientists and cardiologists develop novel therapies for the treatment of acute myocardial infarction.

“Our previous studies indicated that SDF-1 expression was sufficient to induce tissue repair by the body’s own endogenous stem cells,” said Marc Penn, M.D., Ph.D., FACC, director of research for Summa Cardiovascular Institute in Akron, Ohio, and a member of Summa Physicians Inc. – Cardiology. “Our current study demonstrates that adult stem cell therapy functions through inducing endogenous stem cells as well. These data show how we can learn from the biology of stem cells and achieve the benefits of adult stem cell therapy by developing novel drug therapies.”

Dr. Penn’s pioneering work on the role of SDF-1 in tissue repair has led to the development of JVS-100, a DNA plasmid encoding human SDF-1. This drug is being developed by Juventas Therapeutics, Inc. and was the focus of a successful recently completed Phase I clinical trial in patients with severe heart failure.

“The findings of Dr. Penn’s current research supports an overarching hypothesis of the importance of the SDF1-CXCR4 axis in promoting cardiac repair,” said Rahul Aras, Ph.D., president and CEO of Juventas Therapeutics, Inc. “These findings offer a fundamental mechanistic proof of how adult stem cell therapy repairs injured tissue and allows for the ordered expansion of SDF-1, and stem cell therapy in general, into other clinical indications.”

SDF-1-related therapies will be the focus of three multicenter clinical trials in 2012 focusing on patients with chronic heart failure, critical limb ischemia and sternal wound healing after bypass surgery. Summa Cardiovascular Institute will participate in these trials.

“Dr. Penn’s work and vision truly extends from the bench to the bedside and offers many patients with acute and chronic tissue injury the potential for improved outcomes,” said Kenneth Berkovitz, M.D., chair, Summa Cardiovascular Institute, and a member of Summa Physicians Inc. – Cardiology. “We are excited to offer these cutting edge regenerative therapies to the northeast Ohio Community and to our patients at Summa Health System.” 

Read the paper online:

About Summa Health System
Summa Health System is one of the largest integrated healthcare delivery systems in Ohio. Encompassing a network of hospitals, community health centers, a health plan, a physician-hospital organization, a multi-specialty physician organization, research and multiple foundations, Summa is nationally renowned for excellence in patient care and for exceptional approaches to healthcare delivery. Summa's clinical services are consistently recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (Magnet® status), U.S. News and World Report, Thomson Reuters and The Leapfrog Group. Summa also is a founding partner of the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron. For more information, visit or find us on Facebook at and Twitter at