Washington - A new breakthrough would help heal damaged blood vessels in the heart more effectively, possibly doing away with the necessity of surgery.
The technqiue, developed by Aaron Baker, assistant professor at the Cockrell School of Engineering, University of Texas - Austin, permits healing of damaged blood vessels by injecting a lipid-encased compound into a patient.
Once inside the body, the substance stimulates cell growth and spurs the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, in the heart or limbs, the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports.
"Others have tried using growth factors to stimulate vessel growth in clinical trials and have not been successful," said Baker, a faculty member in the department of biomedical engineering, according to a Cockrell School statement.
"We think that a major reason for this is that previous methods assumed the diseased tissues retained the ability to respond to a growth stimulus," said Baker.
Baker's breakthrough could be crucial in treating chronic myocardial ischemia disease, which affects up to 27 million patients in US alone, constricting blood flow in the heart and lower limbs - ultimately, causing organ dysfunction and failure.
Central ischemia, which effects the heart, occurs when the coronary vessels that feed blood to the heart become blocked or narrow due to a buildup of fatty deposits, or plaques.
Such plaques are typically the result of a prolonged unhealthy diet or smoking, and factors like age, high blood pressure and diabetes increase the risks of the disease, Baker said.
Doctors have typically treated ischemia by physically opening the closed artery with a stent or surgically rerouting blood flow to the poorly perfused tissue. Both methods have limitations, however, and are not effective long-term.