Brits launch $80M push to regenerate heart tissue

The British Heart Foundation has launched an $80 million research project to study how stem cells could regenerate heart tissue and, in the words of the foundation, "mend broken hearts." Scientists say they're shooting for experimental drugs in development within the next decade to give certain kinds of cells in the heart the ability to regenerate tissue, repair damage and combat heart failure, according to a Reuters report.

"Scientifically, mending human hearts is an achievable goal and we really could make recovering from a heart attack as simple as getting over a broken leg," Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the BHF, said at a briefing in London.

Also at the briefing, Paul Riley of the Institute of Child Health at University College London (UCL) said he has found a natural protein, thymosin beta 4, that plays a role in developing heart tissue. He said his researchers have successfully used the protein to "wake up" cells known as epicardial cells in mice with damaged hearts. "We hope to find similar molecules or drug-like compounds that might be able to stimulate these cells further," he told reporters.

- read the Reuters report