Upstate News

April 14, 2004
Kathleen Paice 315 464-4839

University Hospital to participate in national clinical trial for new chronic heart failure therapy

An innovative new treatment for chronic heart failure, in which a person’s own immune system is targeted to reduce their risk of hospitalization and death, is now being tested at University Hospital. The hospital is one of 160 sites in North America and the only in Syracuse to test Vasogen Inc.’s immune modulation therapy for chronic heart failure.

Nearly 5 million Americans are living with heart failure and 550,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. The heart’s inability to function as a pump leads to a decline in health for the patient and frequent hospitalizations and premature death. Chronic heart failure is the leading cause of hospital admissions for patients over 65.

Under the new treatment, which uses immune modulation therapy (IMT), blood (approximately two teaspoons or 10 milliliters) is drawn from the patient and mixed with a small amount of a standard anti-clotting agent. The sample is then placed in a special device where it is exposed to a temperature of 108 degrees, ultraviolet light, and a mixture of medical grade oxygen and ozone. This process takes between 20 and 30 minutes. The blood sample is then injected back into the body.

The process is designed to reduce the chronic inflammation implicated in the development and progression of chronic heart failure by activating the immune systems physiological anti-inflammatory response to bad cells.

“Immune modulation therapy targets the destructive action of chronic inflammation in the body,” said University Hospital cardiologist Robert Carhart, M.D., who is leading the Syracuse study. “This approach holds great promise for reducing the risk of death and hospitalization and improving the quality of life for patients with advanced heart failure.”

The national clinical trial, called ACCLAIM, for Advanced Chronic Heart Failure Clinical Assessment of Immune Modulation Therapy, seeks to enroll about 2,000 patients. Enrollees must have diagnosed chronic heart failure and prior hospitalization or outpatient treatment with intravenous medication for heart failure with the past 12 months. To see if one is eligible for the clinical trial, call Mimi Weber at 464-9574.

In an earlier similar study, patients who received IMT reported improvement in their condition and quality of life and were hospitalized less often than those who did not receive the treatment.

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