Heart attack: New protein therapy may improve recovery

New preclinical research in animal models finds that infusing a specific protein into scar tissue after a heart attack improves and speeds up the recovery of the heart.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), around 605,000 people in the United States have a new heart attack each year, and approximately 200,000 experience a recurrent attack.

Reperfusion, which is a technique that frees up the flow of oxygen to the heart’s tissue, is a common form of treatment after a heart attack. However, up to one-quarter of people who undergo reperfusion develop heart failure within a year.

So, researchers led by James Chong — an associate professor at the University of Sydney in Australia — have explored an alternative treatment that targets the scar tissue that forms after a heart attack.

Chong and colleagues evaluated the therapeutic potential of a protein therapy called recombinant human platelet-derived growth factor-AB (rhPDGF-AB).

As its name suggests, rhPDGF-AB is a recombinant growth factor-AB derived from human platelets. Platelets are small blood cells that rush to an injury site when they are needed to help the blood clot and start the healing process.

The researchers tested the new treatment in a porcine model of heart attack, and their promising results suggest that the therapy may soon help humans recover from heart attack.

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