Thymosin beta 4 (TB4), a naturally occurring peptide was found to significantly reduced tissue damage, ventricular scarring and dilation, and markedly improved cardiac function when administered to laboratory animals immediately following induced myocardial infarction (heart attack).
The study is significant as an approach to prevent apoptosis (natural cell death) as well as protecting healthy cardiac cells following cardiac trauma. Heart attacks occur in over one million people annually in the US with over thirteen million suffering from coronary artery disease, making it the single largest cause of death in the Western world.
To date, this is the first study of its kind that details an agent that is able to affect cardiac cells in this way. The encouraging results observed opens up a potential new approach for treating heart attack victims.
Researchers at the
"The effects appear similar to those reported in dermal and ocular wound healing studies using TB4, especially at the cellular level, but it is remarkable that it has such an effect on a whole organ," he commented.
The work by Srivastava represents great potential in the field of acute myocardial infarction. The ability to repair (cardiac) muscle after an acute infarction makes the use of TB4 a discovery that rivals thrombolytic therapy.
Srivastava added that future experiments would be conducted in pigs, whose hearts most resemble humans.
Srivastava's study, entitled: "Thymosin beta 4 activates integrin-linked kinase and promotes cardiac cell migration, survival and cardiac repair," can be found in the November 25th issue of < href="http://www.nature.com"target="_blank">Nature.