Molecule Repairs Damage After Heart Attack

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Heart Attack
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Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found a molecule that can repair damage to the heart cells, and grow new blood vessels after a heart attack. Thymosin beta-4 (TB4), introduced into the system within 24 hours after a heart attack, reprograms the body to make new cells at the site of a heart attack, also encouraging the formation of new blood vessels. The molecule also inhibits death of heart cells.

TB4 is the molecule that stimulates formation of coronary blood vessels that supply the heart during fetal development. Dr. Ildiko Bock-Marquette, assistant professor of cardiothoracic surgery at UT Southwestern and the study’s lead author says, “This molecule has the potential to reprogram cells in the body to get them to do what you want them to do.” He explains that the implications are “enormous” given the molecule’s potential to repair damaged heart cells after a heart attack.

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The scientists explored how the TB4 molecule can repair damage to the heart, using mouse models. They injected TB4 into the mice finding that the molecule improved heart function after induced heart attack.

“We hope this protein can inhibit cell death that occurs during a heart attack in the short term, and that it may initiate new growth of coronary vessels by activating progenitor cells in the long term, “explains Dr. Ildiko Bock-Marquette.

The scientists saw increased capillary density in the blood vessels of the mice in just three days after induced heart attack.
The researchers say further studies will show whether the same results occur in larger mammals. The TB4 molecule has tremendous potential to repair the damage that occurs after a heart attack.

Reference: UT Southwestern

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