Monday, May 13, 2013

Making old hearts younger - HSCI Researchers find protein that reverses some effects of aging in mice

Researchers have identified a protein in the blood of mice and humans that may prove to be the first effective treatment for the form of age-related heart failure that affects millions of Americans. When the protein was injected into old mice, the hearts were reduced in size and thickness, resembling the healthy hearts of younger mice.

Two Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) researchers— a stem cell biologist and a practicing cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital— have identified a protein in the blood of mice and humans that may prove to be the first effective treatment for the form of age-related heart failure that affects millions of Americans.

When the protein, called GDF-11, was injected into old mice, which develop thickened heart walls in a manner similar to aging humans, the hearts were reduced in size and thickness, resembling the healthy hearts of younger mice.

Even more important than the implications for the treatment of diastolic heart failure, the finding by Richard T. Lee, a Harvard Medical School professor at the hospital, and Amy Wagers, a professor in Harvard’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, ultimately may rewrite our understanding of aging.

A report on Lee and Wagers’ findings was published today by the journal Cell.



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