Time for a global alliance

This is a special time in the field of cardiovascular regeneration. However, unlike many would have assumed following controversies in cardiovascular regenerative medicine, there is no crisis but a compelling need and willingness amongst clinicians and scientists to discuss progress and hurdles in cell therapies in an open forum, which has been the mission of the International Symposium on Cell Therapy and Cardiovascular Innovations since its inception.

On behalf of the Organising Committee, Professor Francisco Fernández-Avilés (Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Maraňon, Madrid, Spain) opened this international symposium once again with a welcome message and a message calling for globalisation of scientific efforts to progress the field of cardiovascular regenerative medicine (

The two day symposium has always been and continues to be an international framework of excellence gathering the key opinion leaders in the field. This year we have debated a number of topics

  • cell generation and turnover in the human heart (Olaf Bergmann and Piero Anversa),

  • old and young cells (Annarosa Leri)

  • efficacy of cells versus different cells (Giulio Pompilio)

  • REPEATed administration of cells (Birgit Assmus)

  • combinations of cells (Joshua Hare)

  • and approaches beyond and instead of cells (Marc S. Penn and Amir Lerman)

We have also evaluated the route from cardiac regeneration biology to human health and how it all may be lost in translation, whether we really are learning from animal models (Roberto Bolli) and we have advocated for the same rules and methodologies of clinical science to be applied to research in pre-clinical models (Steven Chamuleau). We debated the challenges and opportunities in cardiac regeneration basic research (Mark A. Sussman), having also the perspective of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC, cellular biology working group (Joost P.G. Sluitjer). In addition to cells alone (Stefanie Dimmeler), approaches beyond cell therapies included tissue engineering and organogenesis (Doris A. Taylor), mechanical devices and mechanical support (Neil Howell), non-cellular biologics such as exosomes (Susmita Sahoo and Luis R. Borlado) and injectable biomaterials (Karen L. Christman).

In the clinical arena, the succession of Phase I and II randomized trials that have proven the safety of cell therapies in heart disease has led to the design of the first Phase III clinical trials to test their efficacy. Andreas Zeiher talked about their experience with the currently ongoing BAMI trial (, NCT01569178), funded purely by academic grants (EUFP7) whilst Timothy Henry spoke about their experience with the RENEW trial (, NCT01508910) sponsored by Baxalta US Inc. Lessons learnt from these two multicentre Phase III randomized trials, as well as the challenging and changing regulatory hurdles (Thomas J. Povsic and Anthony Mathur) were discussed. The need to work together to advance the field of cardiovascular regenerative medicine and plan for the next decade was clearly exemplified in the Cardiovascular Cell Therapy Research Network - National Institute of Health (CCTRN-NIH) American model (Emerson C. Perin) and the Transnational Alliance for Cell-based regeneration Therapies In Cardiovascular Syndromes (TACTICS) enterprise (Francisco Fernández-Avilés).

The meeting was adjourned with the recognition of Andre Terzic (Basic science) and Stefan Janssens (Clinical science) as recipients of the 3rd Madrid Cardiac Regeneration Awards.

Farewell! there is a great deal of work to do together until we meet next year.

Summary developed by Dr Enca Martin-Rendon (University of Oxford, UK)

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