The 14th Congress of the European Society of Cardiology: Scientists find key to growing new arteries in hearts

HEART specialists believe that patients will be able to grow new heart arteries to relieve the congestion that causes attacks.

Scientists at Freiburg University in Germany have succeeded in growing new arteries in the hearts of rats, where none had been before, by implanting a human growth factor which is involved in the natural mechanism of wound-healing.

If the experiment is safe and works in man, it could mean a new era of non-surgical heart treatment. Instead of bypass surgery - in Britain, the commonest form of surgery for heart disease with about 15,000 operations conducted each year - the growth factor could be implanted through a catheter or injected on to the heart.

The scientists described how the laboratory had first identified the growth factor, a type of protein which initiates the growth of new blood vessels necessary for wound-healing. Then they genetically manipulated E coli bacteria to produce this angiogenetic growth factor and implanted it between the aorta, the major arterial vessel leading out of the heart, and the surface of the heart muscle. After nine weeks, they were able to see that new arteries had formed, creating bridges between aorta and the heart muscle.

Dr Roland Fasol, a member of the team, said that despite advances in knowledge and treatment, heart disease remained the big killer. 'The ultimate therapy is still coronary surgery, if conservative and conventional treatment fails. But the surgeon is faced with the problem of limited availability of his patients' own graft material for his operation.'

He said the experiment had proved the feasibility of the technique and further research is under way to test its safety and the permanence of the new blood vessels.

One concern is to make certain that the growth factors which promote rapid growth of cells do not, at the same time, encourage the growth of cancer cells. Kirsten Schlaudraff, head of the Freiburg laboratory, said that so far their angiogenetic growth factor showed no sign of encouraging cancer and it might be possible to try it in human heart patients in about three years time.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Web Designer

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion, this leading ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion, this leading ...

Recruitment Genius: Retirement Coordinator - Financial Services

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...

Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss