The result is heart failure, which leads to continual exhaustion, poor quality of life, and in many cases death.
In the trial, a team of global researchers soaked a patch made of collagen in a protein called Fstl1 and stitched it onto the hearts of each of the animals that had suffered heart attacks. The patch was tested with mice and pigs, showing that it stimulated new muscle growth in the animals after they had had a heart attack.
Though patients survive the heart attack, the attack leaves the heart damaged and scarred.
Heart muscle regeneration and scarring are two major issues that current treatments for heart attacks do not address, said Pilar Ruiz-Lozano, Ph.D., at Stanford University. This was in addition to less scarring, which was also seen.
The researchers got down to reintroduce the protein again into the broken epicardial tissue of mice and pigs that had suffered a coronary heart assault.
For their research, the scientists started out with the epicardial cells and showed that they stimulated existing heart muscle cells, or cardiomyocytes, to replicate.
Previous heart regeneration studies in zebrafish have shown that the epicardium is one of the driving factors for healing a damaged heart, Ruiz-Lozano said. They did this by suturing a bioengineered patch, loaded with Fstl1, to the broken tissue. The collagen in the patched was modified by scientists in order to resemble certain features of the epicardium. He adds, "It's commercially viable, clinically attractive and you don't need immunosuppressive drugs". New blood vessels regenerated there as nicely.
Prof. Ruiz-Lozano believes the findings pave the way for a "completely revolutionary" treatment for heart attack patients, and the team hopes the patch will enter human clinical trials within the next 2 years.
Within two to four weeks of receiving the patch, heart muscle cells began to proliferate and the animals progressively recovered heart function. This motivated researchers to create a protein patch and apply it to the surface of mouse and pig hearts that had undergone an experimental form of myocardial infarction or "heart attack".
The work built-in the efforts of a number of labs worldwide, together with labs on the Sanford-Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in San Diego, UC-San Diego, Boston University School of Medicine, Imperial College London and Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences.
Protein patch could help tissue recovery after a heart attack
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