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Transplanted Skeletal Muscle Mimics Heart Muscle; Helps Failing Heart Pump, Duke,,Researchers Say

mune system to return to normal. Then the cells would be delivered with a catheter, a device now commonly used to clear blocked arteries.

"Even if the cells only boosted contraction by 10 or 15 percent, that could mean a significant difference in a patient's quality of life," Taylor said.

Taylor began her experiments several years ago with the hope of providing some way to prevent hearts that were damaged by severe heart attacks from progressing to heart failure. Currently there is no way to reverse damage done to the heart during an extended period of low oxygen, as occurs in a severe heart attack. Although the remaining heart muscle cells grow larger to compensate, that only makes the heart more inefficient. Cardiologists rely on quickly removing blockages in arteries with clot busting agents. But in cases where the heart is damaged, it can't repair itself. The result can be congestive heart failure, a chronic condition that kills more than 41,000 people annually in the United States and Europe.

"Treatments for severe heart failure are currently limited to making the remaining heart work better or heart transplantation," Taylor said. "You are born with all the heart cells you'll ever have. Once you damage the heart muscle, it's gone forever."

Yet as any body builder knows, if you strain your biceps pumping iron they respond by building new muscle. In a deceptively simple idea, Taylor decided to try to recruit the services of individual skeletal muscle cells, called myoblasts, to actually regenerate dead heart muscle.

"Our hope is that, as a first step to treating patients, transplanted cells may boost the heart's ability to contract, at least long enough for a new heart to become available. When the failed heart is removed, we will be able to see if the engrafted cells performed as in our preliminary tests."

The technique is different from any other that has been tried for treating heart failur
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Contact: Karyn Hede George
George016@mc.duke.edu
919-684-4148
Duke University Medical Center
4-Aug-1998


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