Novel Protein Therapy Could Speed Up Recovery after Heart Attack

“Treatment with rhPDGF-AB led to an overall increase in survival rate in our study.”


A new preclinical study has found that injecting a specific protein called recombinant human platelet-derived growth factor-AB (rhPDGF-AB) into scar tissue after a heart attack could improve and speed up the recovery of the organ.

The study, conducted on pigs, was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

More than 605,000 Americans have a new heart attack every year, and over 200,000 have a recurrent attack.

Most people with a heart attack undergo reperfusion, a technique that frees up the oxygen flow to the heart. However, more than 25 percent of people who undergo reperfusion experience heart failure sooner than later.

The news study, which was conducted by the researchers from the University of Sydney, Australia, tried to explore an alternative treatment that can heal scar tissue after a heart attack.

Lead researcher Dr. James Chong and his team tried to evaluate the therapeutic effects of rhPDGF-AB, a protein derived from human platelets.

The researchers found that the protein helped form more new blood vessels, decreased abnormal heart rhythm, and boosted overall heart function.

They also found that the new technique improved the survival rate by 40 percent. In addition, it improved the heart’s ejection fraction.

Dr. Chong said, “By improving cardiac function and scar formation following a heart attack, treatment with rhPDGF-AB led to an overall increase in survival rate in our study.”

“While the treatment did not affect overall scar size, importantly, we found that rhPDGF-AB led to increased scar collagen fiber alignment and strength,” he added. “This improved heart function after a heart attack.”

“This is an entirely new approach with no current treatments able to change scar in this way,” he continued.

Dr. Chong said, “This project has been developed over more than 10 years, and we now have compelling data in two species for the effectiveness of this treatment.”

“While we have treatment protocols in place, it’s clear that there is an urgent, unmet need for additional treatments to improve patient outcomes, particularly after large heart attacks,” he added, “Some further animal studies are required to clarify safety and dosing. Then we can start looking toward clinical trials in humans very soon.”

“RhPDGF-AB is clearly a promising therapeutic option and could potentially be used alongside existing treatments to improve heart attack patient outcomes and survival rates.” Chong opined, “We […] hope to further investigate the treatment, including whether it could be used in other organ systems impacted by scar tissue, such as the kidneys.”