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Scientists look to stem cells to mend broken hearts


Tuesday, February 1 09:01 am

Reuters Kate Kelland


Britain’s leading heart charity launched a 50 million pound ($80 million) research project on Tuesday into the potential of stem cells to regenerate heart tissue and “mend broken hearts”.


Scientists leading the work for the British Heart Foundation (BHF) said they hope that within the next decade they may have experimental drugs in development that would give certain kinds of cells in the heart the ability to regenerate tissue, repair damage and therefore combat heart failure.


The ability of heart tissue to regenerate already occurs in some animals, such as zebrafish, which can regrow portions of their own hearts if they are damaged.


At a briefing in London to launch a “mending broken hearts” fundraising campaign, scientists said research into stem cells and developmental biology may in future make this possible in people too.


“Scientifically, mending human hearts is an achievable goal and we really could make recovering from a heart attack as simple as getting over a broken leg,” said Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the BHF.


Scientists in the United States reported last year that they had been able to turn structural heart cells into beating cells by identifying genes that, in a developing embryo, turn an immature cell into a beating heart cell or cardiomyocyte.


One of the British teams, led by Professor Paul Riley of the Institute of Child Health at University College London (UCL) has already found a natural protein, called thymosin beta 4, that plays a role in developing heart tissue.


He said his researchers had already had some success in using this protein to “wake up” cells known as epicardial cells in mice with damaged hearts.


“We hope to find similar molecules or drug-like compounds that might be able to stimulate these cells further,” he told reporters at the briefing.


Another team of researchers at Imperial College London will be looking at a group of rare latent stem cells that can be harvested and then grown in the laboratory.


These cells are highly active in developing hearts and can grow into new functioning tissue, but something in them gets switched off soon after humans are born, meaning that the heart is no longer able to repair any damage, said Professor Michael Schneider, who leads this team.


His researchers will be trying to find ways of re-activating the cells in a controlled and safe way, so that they are able to repair damaged heart tissue but will not grow out of control.


“One strategy would be to give a drug that would activate this kind of process,” he said, adding that this “requires more knowledge about what signals trigger these cells”.


Weissberg said if the research was as successful as they hoped, it could one day reduce or even eliminate the need for heart transplants for patients whose hearts are damaged. (Editing by Steve Addison)


Source: http://uk.news.yahoo.com/22/20110201/tsc-life-us-heart-stemcells-011ccfa.html


Heart attack symptoms in men and women


Symptoms the same for both, study finds


The symptoms of a heart attack is men and women are very similar, a new study has found.


“Both the media and some patient educational materials frequently suggest that women experience symptoms of a heart attack very differently from men,” said Martha Mackay from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, who led the study. “These findings suggest that this is simply not the case.”


In the study, scientists monitored the symptoms of 305 patients undergoing angioplasty – a procedure which involves inserting and inflating a balloon into narrowed arteries to expand them. This briefly causes symptoms in the patient simililar to those experienced during a heart attack.


Researchers found no difference in the symptoms reported by men and women, including rates of chest discomfort and ‘typical’ signs such as arm discomfort, shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, indigestion-like symptoms, and clammy skin.


While both women and men experienced typical or non-typical symptoms, women were, however, more likely to report throat, jaw and neck discomfort than men.


“Clear educational messages need to be crafted to ensure that both women and healthcare professionals realize the classic symptoms are equally common in men and women”, Ms MacKay said.


She added that suspected heart disease patients should be questioned more thoroughly about their symptoms by doctors.


Heart attack warning signs (women and men)


Pain


This includes:


  • *Sudden discomfort or pain that does not go away with rest
  • *Pain that may be in the chest, neck, jaw, shoulder, arms or back
  • *Pain that may feel like burning, squeezing, heaviness, tightness or pressure
  • *In women, pain may be more vague
  • *Chest pain or discomfort that is brought on with exertion and goes away with rest

Shortness of breath


  • *Difficulty breathing

Nausea


  • *Indigestion
  • *Vomiting

Sweating


  • *Cool, clammy skin

Fear


  • *Anxiety
  • *Denial

Heart Your Heart

Healthy heart quiz


Heart disease kills more people in the UK than any other cause. Take our quiz to find out if you know what puts you at risk of heart disease and heart attacks.


Take the Quiz: http://uk.health.lifestyle.yahoo.net/quiz_run.aspx?q=heart-health-quiz

Heart Month

National Heart Month

National Heart Month is our annual campaign to increase awareness of heart and circulatory disease and to raise funds for our research, prevention and care services.


This year, we launched the BEAT, the first ever national heart health code and lifestyle check:


  • Be Active
  • Eat Healthily
  • Avoid Smoking
  • Take the lifestyle check

The BEAT encourages people to take steps to improve their own heart health by taking the free online lifestyle check.


During National Heart Month, we also ask people to be a part of Red for Heart and help raise vital funds for our work. You can join National Wear Red Day on Friday 25 February 2011 or choose your own event – anything goes as long as it’s red!


There are lots of other ways individuals and organisations can support National Heart Month, from holding your own event to helping us promote the campaign in your workplace, school, university or wherever you can.


To get involved you can pre-order our free fundraising kit today.


To find out more and get involved, please email red@bhf.org.uk or call 0845 241 0976.


http://www.bhf.org.uk/get-involved/campaigning/national-heart-month.aspx


British Heart Foundation:

http://www.bhf.org.uk/



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