Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Cause of cardiac fibrosis is studied

Cause of cardiac fibrosis is studied

BOSTON, July 30 (UPI)

U.S. scientists studying cardiac fibrosis -- a stiffening of the heart muscle that can lead to heart failure -- have identified a possible treatment.

The animal study, led by the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, demonstrates a bone morphogenic molecule known as rhBMP7 can reverse the cardiac fibrosis process, offering the possibility of a therapeutic target for the debilitating condition.

"Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the Western world," the study's lead author Dr. Elisabeth Zeisberg said. "And most people who suffer from heart disease have developed scarring of the heart tissue, known as fibrosis." Fibrosis develops when excessive production of matrix proteins, such as collagen, results in pathological scarring. In the heart, the buildup of matrix leaves the organ stiff and inflexible, unable to properly relax and function.

"Fibrosis can develop in any organ in the body," Zeisberg said. "While it's known that fibroblast cells are responsible for cardiac fibrosis, the source of these fibroblasts has remained unknown until now."

The study, funded in part by the National Institutes of Health and the Novartis Corp., appears in the advance online edition of the journal Nature Medicine.

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