Researchers at Oxford University have been looking at new methods to repair damaged hearts after an attack. While heart attacks cause a part of the organ to die and be replaced with scar tissue, a new study in the lymphatic system around the heart could offer a potential solution.
It was found that lymphatic vessels sprouted around the heart after an attack in order to limit the damage, and scientists hope that if more vessels are stimulated via a VEGF-C protein, damage could be prevented. In mice hearts, use of the protein triggered a 30 per cent improvement in the heart's ability to pump blood compared to untreated mice.
These stimulated cells are already in the organ, but it could be that new heart cells are made from stem cells.
Lead researcher Paul Riley said: "There was a time when the heart wasn't thought to be repairable… All of those things put together give us a lot of hope to moving towards heart repair and regeneration."
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