Friday, July 24, 2009

New damaged heart repair treatment?

The result of a study carried out on mice and rats by the Children's Hospital Boston published int the journal Cell is giving hopes that a new way to repair damaged heart may be in the offing. The key lies in a protein called Neuregulin 1 or NRG1.

A team of Boston researchers tested the abilities of various molecules to spur cell divisions in cultured cardiomyocytes (cardiac muscle cells) and found that NRG1 produced the most significant effect. NRG1 was administered to animals which had suffered heart attacks and it was found to promote regeneration of the heart muscles, proving that adult heart cells of mice can be stimulated to reproduce itself. The researchers thus conclude that they have identified a new approach to promote myocardial regeneration.

The researchers now plan to test this new therapy in pigs which have more in common with humans than mice and rats.

While this finding point towards a possible new therapy (patients getting daily NRG1 infusions over period of weeks) for damaged hearts, researcher Dr. Bernhard Kühn cautioned that the safety of the therapy need to be tested before the study can proceed to testing in humans.



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