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Wednesday 26th October 2016

Heart drug hope

9th June 2011

Scientists have used a drug that may make the heart repair itself in research on mice.


Reporting their findings in the journal Nature, the team from University College London (UCL) showed that if used in advance of a heart attack the drug, thymosin beta 4, was able to “prime” the heart for repair.

It has been previously considered that damage caused by a heart attack was likely to be permanent.

Researchers examined a group of cells which are able to transform into different types of heart tissue in an embryo.

In adults epicardium-derived progenitor cells line the heart, but have become dormant and the scientists used thymosin beta 4, to "wake them up".

Professor Paul Riley from UCL said: “The adult epicardial cells which line the muscle of the heart can be activated, move inward and give rise to new heart muscle.

“We saw an improvement in the ejection fraction, in the ability of the heart to pump out blood, of 25%.”

He said he could envisage a patient known to be at risk of a heart attack taking an oral tablet, which would prime their heart so that if they had a heart attack the damage could be repaired.

The study was funded by the British Heart Foundation, which said repairing a damaged heart was the “holy grail” of heart research.

While excited about the development, however, the organisation did warn that any treatment that was suitable for use in humans was likely to be still several years away.


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