A drug currently being used for cancer patients, can form new blood vessels after a heart attack, following research in mice and human cells.
During a heart attack, the blood flow is blocked and cells die from a lack of oxygen, but scientists at the University of Bristol, UK, observed that the drug (MEK inhibitor) can work by stimulating cells called pericytes, which wrap around veins, leading to the growth of new blood vessels.
In a trial funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) mice were treated with the drug every day for two weeks following a heart attack.
Professor Paolo Madeddu, who led the research, told The Times: “Further research is needed to confirm the safety and effectiveness of MEK inhibitors in the clinical setting, but this study offers genuine hope of an entirely new approach to prevent heart failure.”
Researchers hope to start clinical trials in heart attack patients next year.