A new medical breakthrough may revolutionize treatment of patients with myocardial infarction. Researchers at the Gladstone Institutes replaced in mice models dead tissue with viable tissue after a miocardial infarction. The discovery was announced recently in the latest issue of Nature. Experiments on regenerative medicine started long ago, but until now researchers have not managed to translate many of their findings on mouse models.
The experiment may have multiple implications regarding treatment after stroke. Dr. Srivastava explains that once deprived of oxygen, the heart muscle can not be revived and dies. The occlusion of a vessel that supplys blood the heart leads to ischemia and ultimately to a heart attack which results in the death of the myocardial tissue. That portion of the heart muscle supplied by the vessel will not participate in contraction, which means that the heart may not function properly. The main treatment applied after a heart attack is coronary angioplasty, recanalization of the obstructed vessel that determined the infarction. In other words, the blocked vessel is opened with a balloon , then a stent is installed. Although this procedure can save lives, it should be mentioned that angioplasty is performed 4-6 hours after stroke. It is therefore necessary for the patient to arrive as soon as possible to the hospital. Otherwise the heart tissue dies. The main complication that can occur after a heart attack is heart failure as the heart can no longer exercise its function as a pump. Patients with heart failure present dyspnea (shortness of breath), and can not lead a normal life. The only solution here is heart transplantation. Drugs can not cure heart failure and only relieve the symptoms.
Dr. Srivastava stated that experiments conducted on mice are clear evidence that they can make the dead tissue in viable tissue able to contract. He also said that this is a less invasive method that can restore heart function after a myocardial infarction.
The experiment was conducted on rats with myocardial infarction who were injected three genes (GMT) responsible for development of embryonic stem cells into heart cells. The researchers found that after one month the initially dead cells were transformed into cells that were able to contract. Moreover, after three months later these cells had a capacity of contraction even greater than normal.
Researchers now hope to translate the experiment to mammals and eventually humans. Moreover, they think to find a treatment for other diseases currently incurable spinal cord injury such as, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.