Proteins injected into heart can induce heart tissue regeneration

Injecting proteins similar to insulin directly into the heart can cause damaged cells to repair themselves and begin regenerating again. Tests on pigs showed that the dormant cells could begin regrowth following a “regenerative medicine” treatment using certain growth factors – naturally occurring proteins which cells use to communicate with their environment. The findings, produced with teams from Italy and Spain, could lead to simple and affordable treatments for heart attacks.

This new approach by Liverpool John Moores University could ultimately lead to a clinical myocardial regenerative therapy which is effective, simple, affordable, readily and widely available and easy to apply and compatible with the current clinical standard of cardiac care.

Dr Nadal-Ginard said the research shows that injecting growth factors IGF-1 and HGF caused significant “anatomical, histological and physiological” regeneration of damaged hearts and “sets the path” for testing clinical trials.

Team member Georgina Ellison also recently published article on how cardiac stem cells (CSCs) not only have the increased ability to replace lost heart muscle but also have a ‘paracrine’ effect on the survival of heart muscle cells.

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