A southern Taiwan-based National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) research
team has identified the critical time period and a drug as treatment for
cardiac repairing, the university revealed recently at a press
The stem cell research team led by Professor Patrick Ching-Ho Hsieh from
the Institute of Clinical Medicine, NCKU, has discovered prostaglandin
E2, a type of hormone-like medicine, capable of rejuvenating aged hearts.
The discovery sheds light on cardiac cell regeneration and provides
another effective option for heart disease patients other than heart
Hsieh said that cardiovascular disease such as congestive heart failure
is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality throughout the world.
Currently, there are about 6 million patientsof congestive heart
failure in the US and about 0.4 million patients in Taiwan.
In spite of intensive medical or surgical treatment, 80% of patients die
within 8 years of diagnosis, Hsieh added.
He also noted that biomedical research nowadays has couple of milestones
for heart diseases; however, the renewing mechanism is still unknown. It
is also lacking a drug allowing stimulation of heart regeneration by
endogenous stem cells.
After 7 years of work, Hsieh's team has identified the critical time
period and the essential player for this cardiac repairing process.
Also a cardiovascular surgeon at the NCKU Hospital, Hsieh's research
group used a special transgenic mouse model he developed when he was a
research fellow at Harvard Medical School to investigate how endogenous
stem cells regenerate cardiomyocytes following myocardial infarction, or
They showed that the cardiac self-repairing process begins within 7 days
after injury and it reaches its maximal activity on day 10.
The key player for this process is PGE2 and it is important for
regulating cardiac stem cell activities. "More importantly, both young
and old mice have significant improvements for cardiac repairing if you
treat both of them PGE2," said Hsieh.
The NCKU research team figured out that PGE2 has the ability to lower
the expression of the aging marker gene, transforming growth factor
(TGF)-ß1, and rejuvenates the micro-environment of the aged cells, Hsieh
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