A powerful protein patch may be able to stimulate the heart to repair its own tissue damage.
A new scientific discovery could help people recovering from myocardial infarctions, commonly known as heart attacks.
As the Dispatch Tribunal reports, a multi-university study in California focused on a significant part of heart attack fall-outs: the developed scar tissue. Patients may survive the heart attack, but the loss of oxygen to heart tissues causes scarring. This scarring limits the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively, which then may spread the scar tissue throughout the heart, forcing it to work harder and in some cases eventually shutting it down.
While there are multiple drugs designed to help the heart pump blood faster, no treatment exists for the underlying project, the scar tissue. This group of scientists tested a protein called Follistatin-like-1 (FSTL1) that had been noticed to stimulate growth in cultured cardiac muscles. Testing revealed that this protein, when within the epicardial cells, could stimulate the heart muscles cells to replicate themselves into new, healthy versions.
The team created a collagen patch including FSTL1 that can be placed directly on the heart. The first trials have involved placing the patch on the damaged hearts of guinea pigs and mice, with outstanding results. The subjects, who were often near death, were able to recover within 2 to 4 weeks.
The next step, of course, is to figure out if similar things can be done with human hearts. “We’re really excited about the prospect,” team member Mark Mercola said. “It’s commercially viable, clinically attractive, and you don’t need immunosuppressive drugs.”
No word yet on when human trials may begin.