Study Is First Ever To Document Protein Therapy Induces Creation Of New Blood Vessels To The Human Heart

in human hearts.

FGF-I was obtained from strains of Escherichia coli by genetic engineering, then isolated and highly purified the recombinant FGF-I protein. After several series of animal experiments demonstrated the potency of FGF-I, it was used in humans for the first time.

When scientists create recombinant protein, they take the DNA of a growth factor (in this case FGF-I) and manipulate it into RNA (ribonucleic acid) by growing it in bacteria cultures in the laboratory. RNA is then manufactured into protein, which is isolated and purified before it is injected into the hearts of patients.

Twenty patients -- 14 men and 6 women who were at least 50 years old -- who had no prior history of heart attack or cardiac surgery had an operation to clear blockages in more than one vessel. All of them had stenosis -- narrowed blood flow due to atherosclerosis -- in their internal mammary artery/left anterior descending coronary artery. During the operative procedure, the growth factor protein -- in a dosage of 0.01 milligrams per kilogram of body weight -- was directly injected into the heart muscle near the blockage.

Prior to using the treatment in humans, the scientists performed several series of animal experiments, most specifically in ischemic rat hearts. Having found that the FGF-I injection worked in those animal models, the researchers theorized that it would also work in humans.

Study co-authors are P. Pecher, M.D.; B.U. von Specht, M.D. and B. Schumacher, M.D.


Contact: Brian Henry
American Heart Association

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