Injured baby hearts may be coaxed to regenerate | Science News

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Injured baby hearts may be coaxed to regenerate

Shots of a growth factor protein reduce cell death in mice

2:00pm, April 1, 2015

An injectable protein might rejuvenate cell growth in infants’ hearts after cardiac surgery. Experiments on mice and on heart cells obtained from infants born with congenital heart disease suggest that neuregulin 1, a human growth factor, can put infant heart cells on a path that mimics normal growth rather than stalling out. The report appears April 1 in Science Translational Medicine.

Neuregulin 1 is already being tested in adults to boost recovery from heart failure, but it hasn’t been tried in infants with heart disease, says study coauthor Bernhard Kühn, a pediatric cardiologist at the University of Pittsburgh and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. The need is there, he says. About 1 in 100 newborns are born with minor congenital heart defects, and about 1 in 1,000 babies have heart issues severe enough to need surgery. These defects, such as a hole in the heart or

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