Bypass alternatives are growing

Bypass alternatives are growing

FOR PEOPLE WITH ADVANCED CORONARY HEART DISEASE, treatment options have long been limited to either angioplasty-clearing the blockages out of coronary arteriesor bypass surgery-taking an artery from the leg and using it to reroute blood flow around a heart blockage. Now, in an age where images of a sheep named Dolly and cloning abound, researchers in Germany are looking to genetics as a way to develop a revolutionary new treatment for heart disease.

In a controlled study, researchers from the Fulda Medical Center in Fulda, Germany, injected the hearts of 20 coronary heart disease patients with a human protein called fibroblast growth factor. Within days, the protein stimulated the growth of a network of new arteries around the blocked ones that served to reroute blood flow. News of the procedure was published in the Feb. 24, 1998, issue of Circulation.

The method could offer a less invasive alternative to bypass surgery and would be especially useful in treating blockages that can’t easily be reached with bypass. Longer, more extensive trials are expected in the near future.

Copyright People’s Medical Society Aug 1998

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