Researchers have identified a molecule that they believe protects and promotes the survival of heart muscle cells, raising the prospect that it might be administered to treat the damage wreaked by a heart attack.
Although the heart does not normally repair itself after injury, researchers suspect that it does retain the capacity for some degree of recovery. In the 25 Nov 2004 issue of Nature (Vol. 432, No. 7016, pp. 466-472), Deepak Srivastava and his colleagues show that a peptide called thymosin ß4 is active in the growing embryonic heart, where it is important for cell migration and survival. It also helps adult heart muscle cells survive in the laboratory, say the researchers.
In mice treated with thymosin ß4 after a heart attack, more heart tissue survived and the muscle was better able to contract and pump blood than in those animals treated with a placebo. Using this molecule after a heart attack might bypass the current experimental treatment favoured by researchers: to isolate and introduce stem cells into the heart. "The report provides tantalizing clues towards a workable remedy for this prevailing cause of heart failure," says Michael Schneider in an accompanying News & Views article.
Deepak Srivastava (University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX, USA)
Tel: +1 214 648 1246, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Schneider (Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA)
Tel: +1 713 798 6913, E-mail: email@example.com
(C) Nature press release.
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