A report in today's edition of the journal Science describes howa team of 11 researchers at the University of Tokyo MedicalFaculty and the Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology usedgenetically engineered fibroblast growth factor to limit heartdamage in dogs whose coronary arteries were pinched shut.

Atsuko Yanagisawa-Miwa, the principal author of the study,based the team's approach on their finding that infarctedcanine myocardium contains more natural basic fibroblastgrowth factor (bFGF) than does healthy heart tissue. Thirtyminutes after occluding the dogs' arteries, the researchersinfused human recombinant bFGF into the animals' leftcoronary arteries.

Six hours later they repeated the treatment, and later foundthat by at least two different measures, the hormone hadpromoted collateral growth and muscle repair.

The researchers discovered that the ratio of infarct weight tothe weight of the heart's left ventricle wall was significantlysmaller in the bFGF-treated dogs than in the placebo controls --approximately 5.5 percent in the former and 20 percent in thelatter.

A week after occlusion, the number of collateral arteries thatbranched from the hormone-infused coronary in the directionof the infarct was considerably greater in the bFGF dogs than incontrols -- 170 to 109.

Fibroblast growth factor is a single-chain 16 kD peptide. Itinduces the growth of cells that provide scaffolding, such astendons, for tissues and promotes their regeneration afterinjury.

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.