A heart attack is such a serious health threat because once the heart muscle has been damaged, it can’t repair itself. Researchers have found that injecting the damaged muscle with a protein that stimulates growth may help to reverse the damage.
The protein that researchers are so excited about is called NRG1 (neuregulin1). This protein is responsible for the development of the heart and nervous system of a fetus. Once the baby is born, the protein stops working on the muscle cells of the heart.
When Boston Children’s Hospital pediatric cardiologist Dr Bernhard Kuhn and his team injected the protein into rats who had experienced a heart attack on a daily basis for 12 weeks, cells started to regenerate and the heart’s pumping action improved. The injected rats also avoided developing other signs of heart failure, such as thickened heart muscle and dilated chambers in the heart itself.