Researchers at Stanford University, University of California, San Diego, and Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute have developed a patch loaded with a newly identified protein that helps to restore the hearts of mice and pigs post cardiac infarct. The research, just published in journal Nature, points to the potential for such patches to be used in clinical practice within a few years, with clinical trials eyed to start in 2017.
The human protein, Follistatin-like 1 (FSTL1), was embedded inside an epicardial patch and placed over damaged hearts of the animals. The findings showed that the patch promoted the division of surviving heart muscle cells and led to overall stronger hearts and longer survival of the treated animals.
In their study, the researchers noted that the concentration of FSTL1 drops after a heart attack and so the heart fails to regenerate itself. By supplying the organ with the much needed protein that seems to be central to cardiomyocyte growth, the team believes that it should be possible to overcome the heart’s natural maladadaptive response in human hearts after a heart attack.