Keeping you up to date on recent headlines in cardiovascular healthcare:
Angina drug-treated stem cells adapt to transplant site . . . . Researchers at Ohio State University Medical Center (Columbus) have found that "pretreating" adult stem cells with an anti-angina drug allows them to better adapt to the harsh environment of their transplantation site. Adult stem cells from the bone marrow of rats were pretreated with Trimetazidine (TMZ). The stem cells were then grown under low oxygen conditions to mimic their native and destination environments, and exposed to stressful conditions that exist in the damaged heart tissue. The pretreated stem cells provided a substantially better therapeutic effect in restoring heart function.
Select stem cells grow new blood vessels . . . . Researchers at the University of Western Ontario (London) report that they have identified how to use selected stem cells from bone marrow to grow new blood vessels to treat diseases such as peripheral artery disease. Lead researcher David Hess, of the university's Roberts Research Institute, drew human bone marrow and simultaneously isolated three different types of stem cells that co-ordinate together and have a natural ability to hone in on the area of ischemia to induce blood vessel repair and improve blood flow. The research is published in Blood.
Toward a natural pacemaker . . . . Richard Robinson, PhD, and collaborators at Columbia University (New York) and Stony Brook University (Stony Brook, New York) reported the development of cell culture that mimics the pacing activity in whole mammalian hearts, pointing the way to development of a natural pacemaker. The work sheds light on three electrical channels of the sinoatrial (SA) node, which operates as the body's own natural pacemaker. The researchers used their cellular model to genetically "rewire" two of the three channels of the SA node. The resulting heart rate was very rapid with irregular pauses, just as has already been observed in dogs and mice. The work is published in The Journal of Physiology.
Radiologists can lower cardiac CT dose for non-obese patients . . . . According to a study performed at the University of Erlangen (Erlangen, Germany), radiologists can lower the radiation dose delivered by cardiac CT angiography by 39% in adult patients weighing 185 pounds or less. The study included 100 patients, weighing 185 pounds or less, who underwent cardiac CT angiography either using tube voltage of 120 kV or 100 kV. "The standard coronary CT angiography protocol uses the higher tube voltage value of 120 kV however our study shows that 100 kV can be used instead. It is important to keep the radiation dose as low as possible, especially in younger and female patients," said one of the researchers.
L.A. among state's worst heart disease and diabetes death rates . . . . For the period 2005 to 2007, Los Angeles County ranked 46th in diabetes deaths and 48th in cardiac deaths out of California's 58 counties, according to a recent report by the California Department of Public Health. Health officials said the rankings – 46th in deaths from diabetes and 48th in deaths from coronary heart disease – are a continued sign that obesity-related deaths are a major problem in the county. In September, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation requiring chain restaurants to display calorie counts with each menu item, the first state law of its kind and going into effect this summer and applies to restaurants with 20 or more locations in the state, which will affect 17,000 establishments. Beginning July 1, chain restaurants must start providing brochures listing the calories and the grams of saturated fat for each menu item; on Jan. 1, 2011, all menus and menu boards will have to include the caloric information with each item.
Assays measure enzyme needed to fight failing heart . . . . A failing heart makes a lot of a hormone needed to eliminate the excess salt and water bloating the body but not enough of the enzyme needed to activate it, researchers say. Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia (MCG; Augusta) found that people in heart failure have less of the enzyme corin needed to activate pro-atrial natriuretic peptide (pro-ANP), a hormone made by heart muscle cells that helps to reduce extra sodium and fluid that tax the cardiovascular system. The researchers compared 14 patients in heart failure to 16 people with healthy hearts and found those in heart failure had about 80% less corin. Their assays enabled measurement of corin as well as active ANP levels, instead of only the total pro-ANP levels measured by current technology.
Limited access to ultrasound thwarts pediatric stroke prevention . . . . Limited access to labs that perform transcranial Doppler ultrasound (TCD) screening offers a barrier to helping children who have sickle cell disease and are at a high risk of stroke. Researchers determined how many children underwent a transcranial Doppler ultrasound (TCD) screening since 1998, when a major study was published. The STOP trial showed a more than 90% reduction in the stroke rate of children with sickle cell disease who received a TCD screening and identified as having a high risk of stroke and could therefore have blood transfusion therapy. The research is published in the April 14, issue of Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology (St. Paul, Minnesota).
Rehab robots engineered to help stroke patients . . . . Prototype robots armed with scissor-like claws that can move a glass of water or pick up a pen off the floor are being developed by two faculty members and their students in the Laboratory of Adaptive Technologies at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. The idea is to build assistive robotic devices that can perform everyday tasks for patients recovering from diseases affecting their motor skills and to give them exercise in the process. The prototypes are equipped with lifts designed to raise the grabber to the height of a table for easy access to glasses, utensils and dishes.
New tool calculates risk of bleeding in heart attack patients . . . . Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis), Duke University (Durham, North Carolina) and collaborating institutions have created a new method, using eight basic medical facts, to estimate bleeding risk and lessen the chances that heart attack patients will experience this complication. The CRUSADE analysis identified eight factors that could predict the odds that a heart attack patient might suffer a bleeding event. The factors are gender, heart rate, blood pressure, hematocrit (the concentration of red cells in the blood), creatinine clearance (a measure of kidney function), diabetes, peripheral vascular disease or stroke, and congestive heart failure. The study describing the assessment tool appears in the April 14 issue of Circulation.
T•4 found as key molecule triggering stem cells to repair heart damage . . . . Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UTSW; Dallas) have published a paper elaborating on the regenerative effects of the T•4 moledule on heart cells and blood vessel growth after a heart attack in a rodent model. Allan Goldstein, MD, professor of biochemistry at The George Washington University Medical School, chief scientific advisor for RegeneRx (RGN; ), and the discoverer of T•4, said the research "is essential for the differentiation of stem cells and repair of heart tissue following a heart attack" and supports RegeneRx's work in human subjects. Earlier this year RGN reported completing a Phase I clinical trial in 80 healthy human subjects with RGN-352, a parenteral (injectable) formulation of T•4, with the goal of moving forward with a Phase II trial in patients after a heart attack.
– Compiled by Don Long, MDD National Editor