Harnessing endogenous mechanisms to promote cardiac regeneration
Prof Jagdeep Nanchahal
University of Oxford, United Kingdom
Ischaemic heart disease remains a major cause of disability and death world-wide. When a major blood vessel in the heart suddenly becomes blocked, the muscle that it supplies dies and is replaced with scar tissue. This is what happens in a heart attack. The scarred heart no longer pumps blood properly and 40% of patients who develop heart failure die within 5 years. There is currently no treatment to help make new heart muscle after a heart attack. We have identified a protein already present in the body, a single injection of which within a few hours after injury can dramatically improve heart function by limiting damage and promoting repair. We will now engineer this protein molecule to retain only the regenerative properties, whilst eliminating potential unwanted effects. We anticipate the engineered product to be safe, limit the damage after a heart attack and also promote regeneration of heart muscle.