News on Health & Science

Scientists Find New Way to Fix a Broken Heart

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A new way to mend damage to the heart has been found by scientists.


The boffins have devised a method to coax heart muscle cells into re-entering the cell cycle, allowing the differentiated adult cells to divide and regenerate healthy heart tissue after a heart attack, according to studies in mice and rats by Children’s Hospital Boston reported in the July 24th issue of the journal Cell.

If the same mechanisms identified by the researchers can be shown to work in the human heart, it opens up real possibilities for new and more efficient ways to treat people with heart disease, reports The BBC.

Theoretically, it could be used to treat heart attack patients, those with heart failure and children with congenital heart defects.

The key ingredient is a growth factor known as neuregulin1 (NRG1).

Previously, it was believed that the heart was incapable of repairing itself. During prenatal development, heart muscle cells (cardiomyocytes) proliferate but were thought to lose that ability shortly after birth. But, recent research has indicated that the adult cells do have some ability to replace themselves at a low level.

And, the new study provides evidence that this is true – and that NRG1 can ramp up the process significantly.

The Boston team tested the ability of various molecules to spur cell division in cultured cardiomyocytes, including several factors known to drive proliferation of the cells during prenatal development. NRG1 produced the most significant effect, and it was repeated when the factor was injected into adult mice.

When administered to animals who had suffered a heart attack, it promoted regeneration of heart muscle, and improved the overall function of the organ.

Writing in the journal, they said: “We have identified the major elements of a new approach to promote myocardial regeneration.

“Many efforts and important advances have been made toward the goal of developing stem-cell based strategies to regenerate damaged tissues in the heart as well as in other organs.

“The work presented here suggests that stimulating differentiated cardiomyocytes to proliferate may be a viable alternative.”

Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said: “This fascinating study shows, remarkably, that a significant fraction of adult heart cells in mice can be made to replicate and help to repair damaged hearts.

“If the same mechanisms identified by the researchers can be shown to work in the human heart, it opens up real possibilities for new and more efficient ways to treat people with heart disease.”

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Mending Broken Heart

Can Seaweed Mend a Broken Heart?

Source: The Times Of India

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News on Health & Science

Simple Appendicitis Test Under Development

Researchers link a chemical in children’s urine to appendicitis. Emergency rooms could test for it, preventing unnecessary surgery and increasing the chance of removing the appendix before it bursts.


Researchers have identified a chemical in urine that is closely associated with appendicitis in children and are working to develop a simple test that could be used to diagnose the condition — a test that would both increase the likelihood of performing surgery before the appendix bursts and prevent unnecessary surgery.

Preliminary results show that the test is highly accurate, producing very few instances in which cases are missed (false negatives) or children are incorrectly diagnosed with the condition (false positives), a team from Children’s Hospital Boston reported today in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Appendicitis is the most common childhood surgical emergency. The lifetime prevalence of appendicitis is 9% for males and 7% for females, but the bulk of the cases occur in childhood or adolescence. In the past, diagnosis was made simply from clinical symptoms, such as abdominal pain, and as many as 30% of cases in which surgery was performed revealed a healthy appendix.

Within the last few years, emergency room specialists have begun using CT scans for diagnosis, which reduces the number of unnecessary surgeries to as low as 5%. But in as many as 30% to 45% of those diagnosed with appendicitis, the organ has already ruptured at the time of surgery, leading to a variety of complications that lengthen hospital stays.

There has also been a growing reluctance to use CT scanners on children because of the risk that the radiation will trigger cancer later in life.

Dr. Richard Bachur and his colleagues studied urine from healthy children and those with surgically confirmed appendicitis, and concluded that high levels of one chemical, leucine-rich alpha-2-glycoprotein or LRG, correlated very closely with an inflamed appendix. Tests in 67 children showed that the amount in the urine was correlated to the severity of the inflammation, and the number of false positives and false negatives associated with its use were each less than 3%.

The team is now studying a larger number of urine samples and is working “feverishly” to develop a simple test for LRG that could be used in emergency rooms, Bachur said. “We could take urine and, in minutes, have an answer,” he added.

He cautioned that the team has not yet studied potential markers in adults and they don’t know whether the same test would work. “Adult diseases are a little different,” Bachur said.

Source: Los Angeles Times

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