Reversing tissue damage inside the heart could soon become a reality thanks to new discovery
The latest study from the researchers of the University of Bristol, funded by The Heart Research UK, tries to unveil the mechanism of pericytes stimulating the growth of new blood vessels after a lesion occurs inside the heart muscle.
The process of angiogenesis is intermediated by leptin, a hormone that is also known as “the obesity hormone”, “the fat hormone” or “the starvation hormone.”
Today, the treatment for heart attack consists in coronary artery bypass surgery, a highly invasive procedure that involves a long recovery time and lots of risks.
According to the results of the study, when exposed to low oxygen concentrations, pericytes can produce 40-times more leptin than in normal conditions, as it helps the body survive when oxygen-deprived. Therefore, by boosting the growth of new blood vessels, pericytes enable normal blood flow to the damaged area of the heart.
“Increasing leptin in pericytes in a damaged heart might help it to heal faster, whereas blocking the production of leptin in cancerous pericytes might starve the tumour of nutrients and force it to shrink. This translational research project is a good example of research that aims to benefit patients as soon as possible. Professor Madeddu and the team have made some important new discoveries. Understanding more about the processes involved may help pave the way for the development of new treatments for heart attacks which could replace coronary bypass operations,” Barbara Harpham, CEO of The Heart Research UK explains.
As the research can mark an important turning point in treating serious heart attacks, it can also have practical applications for cancer, building up plenty of study material in order for the scientists worldwide to succeed in treating two of the most deadly illnesses nowadays.