Posted on Aug 30, 2011, 6 a.m.
University of Pittsburgh (US) team develops a novel growth factor compound that regrows blood vessels, with potential application in treating heart attacks.
In the human body, growth factors control many different functions, including cell proliferation, migration, and differentiation. The half-life for most growth factor injected under the skin is half an hour or less—very short-lived. Yadong Wang, from the University of Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania, USA), and colleagues have developed a minimally invasive method of delivering growth factor to regrow blood vessels. The team also used heparin to increase the activity of growth factor and stabilize it. When the researchers injected their growth factor compound under the skin of mice, they saw something amazing: New blood vessels grew, and large ones, not just tiny capillaries. Moreover, the structures persisted: at least a month later, after only one injection of the growth factor complex, the new blood vessels were still there. The team envisions the potential to use their growth factor compound for heart disease treatment: specifically, to reverse the adverse self-remodeling process the heart attempts after a heart attack. The growth factor complex would be injected at the appropriate time—right after the heart attack, or a few days later—to change how the heart repairs itself.
Hunghao Chu, Jin Gao, Chien-Wen Chen, Johnny Huard, Yadong Wang. “Injectable fibroblast growth factor-2 coacervate for persistent angiogenesis.” PNAS, 2011: 108 (33), 13444-13449;August 1, 2011.