Healthy living

Jab could reduce damage caused by heart attack

Jab could reduce damage caused by heart attack 'Milestone achievement'

Scientists are a step closer to producing a simple injection which would dramatically reduce the tissue damage which occurs after a heart attack or stroke.

Heart attacks and strokes occur when the blood flow is interrupted, usually by a clot. This in turn cuts off the supply of oxygen to the tissues.

But most tissue damage happens when the blood flow is restored, as the body's own immune system attacks the oxygen starved tissue.

However, an international team of scientists have now identified an enzyme - Mannan Binding Lectin -Associated Serine Protease-2 (MASP-2) - which plays a key role in the process which leads to tissue damage, and developed an antibody which neutralises its effect.

A single injection of the antibody led to "significantly less damage" in animals, the researchers said.

"This is a fascinating new achievement in the search for novel treatments to significantly reduce the tissue damage and impaired organ function that occur following ischaemia in widespread and serious conditions such as heart attacks and strokes," said Professor Schwaeble, from Leicester University, who led the study.

The research, described as a "milestone achievement" also has the potential to be used as a treatment to prevent organ rejection.

The first clinical trials of the human antibody are expected to be conducted at the Leicester Biomedical Research Unit, at Glenfield Hospital, Leicester.

The study is published in the Early Online Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

This article was published on Tue 19 April 2011

Image © Cecilia Lim -

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