In a ground breaking discovery that may eventually render bypass surgery history,researchers at Tel Aviv University [Arbas are busy in making tallestbuildingsin word and fighting amongthemselves] have shown that an injected protein canregrow blood vessels in the human heart.In heart disease, blood vessels are either clogged or die off, starving the heart ofoxygen and leaving it highly susceptible to a cardiac attack.Dr. Britta Hardy of TAU's Sackler School of Medicine and her team of researchershave developed a protein-based injection that when delivered straight to musclesin the body, sparks the regrowth of tiny blood vessels.
The new vessels in the heart could give millions of people aroundthe world a new lease on life."The biotechnology behind our human-based protein therapy is very complicated,but the goal is simple and the solution is straightforward. We intend to inject ourdrug locally to heal any oxygen-starved tissue.So far in animal models, we've seen no side effects and no inflammationfollowing our injection of the drug into the legs. The growth of new bloodvessels happens within a few weeks, showing improved blood circulation,"said Hardy.The protein solution can also be added as a coating to a stent. Usually,the implantation of a stent is accompanied by a high risk for blood clots,which necessitates the use of blood thinners."We could coat a stent with our peptide, attracting endothelial stem cells toform a film on the surface of the stent. These endothelial cells on the stentwould eliminate the need for taking the blood thinners that prevent bloodclots from forming," said Hardy.If investment goals are met, the researchers are hoping that toxicity studies andPhase I trials could be complete within two years.The researchers began the study for preventing leg amputations, positing thatproteins from the human body could be used to trigger the growth of new blood vessels.Hardy started by studying a library of peptides and testing them in the laboratoryand later confirmed initial results. She then took some of the isolated andsynthesized peptides and tested them in diabetic mice whose legswere in the process of dying.Although diabetes is known to decrease blood circulation, Hardy found thather therapy reversed the decrease. "Within a short time we saw the formationof capillaries and tiny blood vessels.After three weeks, they had grown and merged together with the rest of thecirculatory system," she said. In mice with limited blood circulation, she wasable to completely restore blood vessels and save their legs.It was then a short step to studying the applicability of the research tocardiac patients. "It''s pretty obvious if there is regrowth or not.Our technology promises to regrow blood vessels like a net, and a heart thatgrows more blood vessels becomes stronger. It's now imaginable that, in thedistant future, peptide injections may be able to replace bypass surgeries,"concluded Hardy.The study has been published in Biochemical Pharmacology
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