Robot-assisted stem cell therapy a first in Thailand

Bangkok 09 November 2005In a historic operation, surgeons at Bangkok Heart Hospital performed Thailand's first robot-assisted cardiac stem cell implantation on October 27, 2005. Utilizing Intuitive Surgical's da Vinci Surgical System and VesCell adult stem cell therapy for heart disease from TheraVitae Ltd., surgeons treated a no-option, ischemic cardiomyopathy patient from Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA.

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Dr. Kitipan V. Arom and Sujit Banyatpiyaphod utilized the da Vinci system to make the initial pericardial incision. They then implanted the stem cells directly into the patient's heart using the minimally invasive stem cell injection technique pioneered by Dr. Amit Patel, Director of Cardiac Stem Cell Therapies at The McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and Dr. Arom, who is the Chief Cardiac Surgeon at Bangkok Heart Hospital.

Robotically assisted surgery requires only three small holes be made between the ribs. Through these holes, two robotic arms and a videoscope gain access to the heart, making surgery possible without opening the chest.

"We are proud to be associated with hospitals like Bangkok Heart Hospital", stated TheraVitae's Founder, Don Margolis. "They are merging the latest medical technology and surgical techniques to improve the lives of seriously ill heart patients who cannot be treated by conventional means and would otherwise have no hope", he added.

VesCell uses a patient's own adult stem cells to treat heart disease and is a viable alternative for patients who either cannot undergo or choose not to undergo the standard treatment such as Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG). VesCell uses adult stem cells harvested from approximately half a pint of the patients own blood to treat several heart conditions. Once harvested, the cells are differentiated and expanded in vitro at TheraVitae's Labs in Israel. They are ready for implantation in about one week.

TheraVitae is a private, multinational company focused on using stem cells from the patient's own blood in order to treat a variety of disorders, especially cardiovascular diseases. The company has developed a proprietary stem cell technology called VesCell that is currently being used by hospitals in Thailand to treat patients with heart disease. TheraVitae is based in Bangkok, Thailand, Kiryat Weizmann, Israel, and Hong Kong.

Bangkok Heart Hospital (BHH), the first private heart hospital in Thailand, is a leading institution in the treatment of cardiac-related disease using adult stem cells. The hospital is currently using TheraVitae's VesCell adult stem cell product to treat cardiomyopathy in no-option heart patients. Additionally, BHH has initiated a clinical trial using VesCell in conjunction with Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery (CABG) to treat congestive heart failure.

BHH is comprised of experienced adult and paediatric cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, cardiac anaesthesiologists, cardiac rehabilitation physicians and radiologists who have trained and worked overseas in countries such as the United States, Australia and Japan. Their well-trained and experienced nurses, technicians and paramedical personnel provide 24-hour care for all cardiac conditions.


Leslie Versweyveld

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