July 1, 2006 — Inflammations that occur after a heart attack can be a severe complication that further damages the heart. Cardiologists are now trying a new approach called immune modulation therapy, which exposes a sample of the patient's blood to UV light and ozone. Once reinjected, the injured blood cells trigger a strong immune response, reducing the risk of more heart attacks
Just a few months ago, Gloria Shelby was rushed to the hospital. Doctors said her heart was failing.
"They said my heart was so weakened 'til it just wouldn't continue pumping by itself," Shelby says. She was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Her only option was a heart transplant.
Shelby's heart trouble led her to cardiologist Guillermo Torre-Amione, medical director at the Heart Transplant Methodist Hospital in Houston. He studies the link between inflammation and heart failure.
Dr. Torre put Shelby in a new study of immune modulation therapy. First, a patient's blood sample is exposed to ultraviolet light and ozone gas. This damages blood cells. Then, the sample is reinjected into the patient, triggering an immune response that produces new cells and attacks inflammation.
"When you deliver them back to Ms. Shelby in an intramuscular injection in the hip, her body looks at that and attempts to trigger all these repair responses so that eventually they go to the heart and repair the heart," Dr. Torre tells DBIS.
Patients treated with IMT have a lower death rate than those taking a placebo. And although Shelby doesn't know which group she was in, she does know she's happy to be alive.
She says, "The Good Lord and good doctors have kept me here for my family."
Dr. Torre says IMT therapy could eventually be used to treat other diseases that are linked to inflammation like atherosclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
This has even been used in CIDP and it has worked.