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Dr. Georg Ertl,
This was a session on translational research on heart failure therapy.
The physiologic and pathophysiologic background was given on vagal nerve stimulation by P J. Schwartz (Pavia, IT). In addition, he reported recent clinical data. He pointed out that the bradycardic effect of vagal stimulation was unexpectedly small but there were other mechanisms assumed being beneficial in heart failure. The following presentation by H.N. Sabbah (Detroit, US) on spinal cord stimulation supported that the potential of vagal nerve stimulation but the speakers and the discussants came to the conclusion that both techniques are far from routine clinical application. R J. Hajjar (New York, US) reported on most recent advances in gene therapy. Gene transfer of Calcium Cycling Proteins may repair defective excitation–contraction coupling, has been shown to improve heart failure in animal models, and is heading clinical use. The last speaker K C. Wollert (Hannover, DE) gave a lecture on the state of the art of stem cell therapy in heart failure. Still, there are many studies on their way both clinical and mechanistic research. The data so far available do not suggest that by the techniques used so far, significant numbers of transplanted cells survive at the site where they have been injected into the heart. Therefore more recently, paracrine mechanisms are assumed to contribute to potential beneficial effects of stem cells. The question was discussed as to whether the view on factors supporting in healing in infarcted myocardium should be widened beyond any factors produced by stem cells.
New non-pharmacological approaches to heart failure
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