22 January 2015
Researchers at the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center have found that long-term use of a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) can regenerate heart muscle. The team now suggest that these could assist patients in heart failure as it prevents oxidative damage to a cell-regulator mechanism.
LVADs, which are mechanical pumps sometimes implanted in patients who are awaiting heart transplants, work much like the heart by pumping blood around the body.
Dr Hesham Sadek, assistant professor of Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern, and his team examined samples from ten patients with heart failure. They looked at the tissue samples for markers of DNA damage and cell proliferation, as well as cell division.
Dr Sadek said: "The response is composed of a cascade of proteins that is activated in response to DNA damage and in turn shuts off the ability of cardiomyocytes to divide."
The team found that patients who had used LVADs for at least six months had a nearly three times the amount of cardiomyocyte proliferation.
Posted by Phillip Briggs
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