A team at Stanford University led by Prof. Pilar Ruiz-Lozano, has tested heart regenerating protein patches on damaged pig and mouse hearts; so far the results are positive. The patch designed to heal heart damage from heart attacks may be used in human test trials by 2017.
At present, there are no other solutions to heal damage from a heart attack (myocardial infarction). Cardiomyocytes are the heart cells that die from lack of oxygen during a heart attack; which do not heal properly in humans and other animals. However, zebrafish can regenerate the cardiomyocytes heart cells in the epicardium tissue layer of the heart. The team discovered a protein called Follistatin-like 1 (FSLT1) to be the cause of the heart regeneration in zerbrafish, so the team created a patch with FSLT1 and placed it on the hearts of the heart damaged pigs and mice. The results showed new blood vessels grew in 4 weeks.
These results are significant, considering the condition of the animals they tested. Usually when foreign cells or tissue are transplanted, the human or animal body will reject the tissue, unless medicine is used to help the immune system accept it. Apparently these patches do not contain any cells; only the protein. The following paragraphs coming from Medical News Today show the significance of the heart patch discovery:
” ‘Many [of the animals] were so sick prior to getting the patch that they would have been candidates for heart transplantation,’notes Prof. Ruiz-Lozano.
Study co-author Mark Mercola, professor of bioengineering at UCSD, says the team is “excited” by the findings, stating that the patch is “clinically viable” and “clinically attractive.” What is more, because the patch is acellular – meaning it contains no cells – a patient would not need to use immunosuppressive medication.
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.” – http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/299643.php
It’s good to know options are being created to fix what was once unfix-able. As always, basic advice tells us to live a healthy lifestyle to prevent these problems, but sometimes a heart attack can happen to any one of us; even those who think they are doing the right things. With technology like this protein patch, it is comforting to know that people can have a second chance and regain some of the health they lost.
The research article can be found in the Journal of Nature at http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature15372.html. There is a $32 charge to view the article or $199 to subscribe to the entire journal website.