Heart Attack Treatment | Cardiac Repair and Regeneration

Supported by clinical data, one peptide stands out amongst the rest in its ability to heal and regenerate the heart muscle after experiencing a heart attack.

Summary: Thymosin Beta 4 when used after a heart attack, has been shown to reactivate cardiac progenitor cells to stimulate the formation of new heart muscle cells.


Globally, heart disease is a predominant cause of disability and death.  Adult mammals do not have the ability to repair their heart experiencing a heart attack. Discovering useful strategies for myocardial and vascular regeneration is of great importance considering the number of people affected by heart disease and cardiac damage. Efforts to use stem cells to repopulate damaged tissue are currently limited by technical considerations and restricted cell potential.

Peptide found to stimulate the growth of new heart muscle cells

heart muscle regeneration
Scientists who have been looking into these alternative treatments have found success utilising a small, secreted peptide called thymosin beta 4. Results have discovered thymosin beta 4 can stimulate the growth of new heart muscle cells and inhibit heart muscle cell death.  These findings potentially indicate the ability of thymosin beta 4 to protect the heart, independent of heart damage caused by a heart attack in animal models. The conclusion demonstrates Thymosin Beta 4 to be the first known molecule studied to initiate simultaneous myocardial and vascular regeneration after systemic administration in vivo.

Naturally found in human blood platelets, white blood cells, the spleen and the thymus gland, Thymosin Beta-4 is present not only in humans but many other species including animal tissue. It is present within our bodies as early as the embryonic stage and has the ability to provide great healing throughout life in the way of tissue regeneration.

The cardiomyocyte is the heart muscle cell. Though other cells in the body can regenerate and do so with frequency, the cardiomyocyte starting at birth regenerate at only 1 % a year. By the time we die only half of our original heart muscle cells would have been replaced at this rate.

Suffering from heart disease and heart damage has in the past been considered a permanent affliction. Within a matter of minutes, the damage from a heart attack can take place killing off the cardiomyocytes. Scar tissue which replaces the damaged heart muscle cells is not as efficient at pumping blood. Therefore, scientists have been looking for a way to stop this damage before it happens alongside heal the damage if it has already occurred.

Researchers have set their sights on a small protein called Thymosin beta-4.

This peptide has been found to potentially encourage the growth of cardiomyocytes, as well as stimulate the growth of blood vessels in animal models.

The outer layer of the heart is a region that holds heart progenitor stem cells or “epicardium-derived progenitor cells”. Progenitor cells are immature specialised cells that can differentiate into mature cells to replace damaged cells. Scientists are aware that they are usually dormant, but have found through research with mice administered Thymosin Beta 4, it seems to reactivate the programming and jumpstart this cell formation.

heart attack treatment - repair heart muscle cells

Not only this, but the peptide was discovered to reduce the number of heart muscle cells killed during a heart attack (in animal models) and prepare the dormant progenitor cells to regenerate any that did die. Over the long term, the mice studied were witnessed to have new blood vessel formation in the heart.

Facts about heart disease

The Heart Foundation of Australia compendium “Australian Heart Disease Statistics of 2014″  shows HEART DISEASE  is the biggest killer in Australia.

Key Facts : Heart Disease

  • In 2012, cardiovascular disease caused 44,000 deaths in Australia including 20,000+ deaths from ischaemic heart disease.
  • There are more Australian deaths at the hands of ischaemic heart disease than in any other single cause for both men and women.
They go on to identify the key factors attributed to the development of heart disease:
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Diet
  • Physical Activity
  • Alcohol
  • Cholesterol
  • Blood Pressure
  • Being overweight
  • Diabetes
  • Mental Health

What are some of the signs of heart disease?

Firstly, one must take a good hard look at their health. Those who suffer from diabetes, lack physical exercise, eat unhealthily and smoke cigarettes or have done so in the past, should be getting regular checkups. If the risk factors are there, be proactive and get the medical advice necessary. If you are finding yourself easily fatigued, this could be an indicator.

Other sources have explained some other potential signs which can be identified visually:

  • Creases on ear lobes – particularly if they are present under the age of 40
  • Fluid bags under the eyes or fluid accumulating under the pectorals in males

Helpful guide to ascertain your personal risk factors concerning heart disease and heart attacks: Australian Absolute Cardiovascular Disease Risk Calculator

Symptoms of a heart attack:
  • Pains in shoulders or between the shoulder blades
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Heavy pains in the chest
  • Cold Sweats
  • Pain in arms / upper extremities
  • Shortness of Breath

What happens in your body during a heart attack?

heart disease anatomy
Much like a highway, the coronary arteries in your heart are wrapped around the heart supplying blood to different areas within the heart muscle. Oxygen-rich blood is meant to be transported with ease through this highway. For some blood cells, this route can be held up by a blockage. The blockage we speak of within the coronary artery is called a “plaque” that builds up over time with matter such as cholesterol and fatty material. This matter is lodged inside the coronary artery, slowing down the blood cell traffic to areas of the heart. For years the blood may have travelled with this obstruction – but not with the full force it once had. What happens over time is these plaques can cause the artery to rupture, which sends the message to blood platelets to come in and repair the damage.

Blood Platelets are disk-shaped bodies that you could envisage are like workmen and all their machinery fixing the highway when it cracks. It causes a further blockage at the site. As the platelets create a blood clot to patch up the rupture, these platelets are also holding up the works to the point that little to no blood can move past. The blood starts increasing in pressure at the blockage site looking for alternative routes to the final destination.

Meanwhile, another issue arises if the blood clot grows within the artery. Since the area of the heart muscle is no longer receiving the oxygen-rich blood necessary to keep it alive, part of the heart muscle fed by this coronary artery has the potential to die off. Healthy heart tissue will soon be replaced with scar tissue which replaces the damaged heart muscle cells. This  interferes with the heart’s ability to pump blood. It is, therefore, important for anyone suffering from coronary heart disease to get treatment and make healthy lifestyle choices with urgency to prevent further disruption to the heart muscle.

Another cause of heart attack is “coronary artery spasm” which is described as a severe spasm or “tightening” of a coronary artery. This tightening results in blood supply being cut off within that artery. Though this cause of heart attacks is not as prevalent, it is proposed that taking certain drugs such as cocaine, smoking cigarettes or being exposed to emotional stress, pain or extreme cold could increase one’s risk of experiencing coronary artery spasm.

heart disease and clogged artery
TB-4 vs TB-500

TB-500 is a synthetic peptide which is almost identical to a section of the hormone TB-4. Thus, TB-500 can activate receptors within cells and communicate many of the same messages typical for TB-4.

TB-500 has a peptide chain which is essentially like a fragment or a small “piece” of the Thymosin Beta-4 chain. These peptide chains are short and can easily slot into the receptor sections of cells to mimic hormonal messages thus providing benefits to the patient. An interesting point is due to the smaller size of TB-500, cells have the ability to accept it much more readily than the original TB-4. TB-500 binds well to receptor sites and the cells then use the properties of TB-4 to relay communications throughout the body.

TB-500 has been shown to have the ability to promote endothelial and keratinocyte migration. It does not bind to the extracellular matrix, and it has a low molecular weight. The size of the molecule is advantageous for it can easily travel a long distance through the tissues in the human body.

TB-500 has a key mechanism of action which is its ability to regulate Actin which is a cell-building protein.
There are forty-three amino acids in this short peptide which then assist with the encoding of actin-sequestering proteins. These proteins are vital components necessary for cell differentiation, cell proliferation and cell migration.

TB-500, taking on properties of TB-4, will travel throughout the body looking for injury and inflammation.

Heart Health News:

silent heart attack
Drug makes hearts repair themselves

More and more people are surviving after experiencing a heart attack, this means that there is a multitude of people living with heart failure and heart damage.

An alternative treatment, tested on mice has been discovered to instruct the heart to repair itself.

It was previously believed that damage caused by a heart attack would be permanent and carried throughout life.

This study involving Thymosin beta 4 illustrates how the drug if used in advance of a heart attack, had the potential to “prime” the heart for repair.

taking care of your heart
New report finds almost half of all heart attacks are ‘silent’ 
By Staff Writers – News.com.au

A new study, reported in the journal Circulation, has discovered some alarming information regarding heart attacks. It reveals almost half of heart attacks are “silent”. What this means is that alongside an increased threat of death, there were no visual signs indicative of a heart attack taking place. This does not lessen the harm or damage, the body experiences., rather it increases the overall risk to patients who are unaware they require treatment and lifestyle alterations. Hundreds of thousands of Australians may already be at risk,  with the study finding that 45 per cent of heart attacks are silent. The co-author of the study, Dr Elsayed Soliman highlights an important point warning “Patients don’t know they have had a silent heart attack, they may not receive the treatment they need to prevent another one.” The next attack is likely to cause a full cardiac arrest, which is usually fatal. Cardiovascular disease causes 43,603 deaths in Australia (2013) working out to be 30 per cent of all deaths in that year.

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  • Smart, N., Bollini, S., DubĂŠ, K. N., Vieira, J. M., Zhou, B., Riegler, J., Price, A. N., Lythgoe, M. F., Davidson, S., Yellon, D., Pu, W. T. and Riley, P. R. (2012), Myocardial regeneration: expanding the repertoire of thymosin β4 in the ischemic heart. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1269: 92–101. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2012.06708.x
  • Ildiko Bock-Marquette1,2,5,6, Ankur Saxena1,2,6, Michael D. White3, J. Michael DiMaio3 & Deepak Srivastava1,2,4 Thymosin β4 activates integrin-linked kinase and promotes cardiac cell migration, survival and cardiac repair. Department of Pediatrics, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 6000 Harry Hines Blvd, Dallas, Texas 75390-9148, USA.
  • Kennedy-Lydon T, Rosenthal N. Cardiac regeneration: epicardial mediated repair. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 2015;282(1821):20152147. doi:10.1098/rspb.2015.2147.
  • Thymosin beta4 induces epicardium-derived neovascularization in the adult heart.
    Paul R. Riley, Nicola Smart
    Biochem Soc Trans. 2009 December; 37(Pt 6): 1218–1220. doi: 10.1042/BST0371218
  • Ali, Shah R. et al. “Existing Cardiomyocytes Generate Cardiomyocytes at a Low Rate after Birth in Mice.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111.24 (2014): 8850–8855. PMC. Web. 17 May 2016.
  • Kirkham N, Murrells T, Melcher DH, Morrison EA. Diagonal earlobe creases and fatal cardiovascular disease: a necropsy study. British Heart Journal. 1989;61(4):361-364.
  • Telltale visible signs of aging may predict heart disease … (n.d.). Retrieved from http://newsroom.heart.org/news/telltale-visible-signs-of-aging-239569
  • New report finds almost half of all heart attacks are ‘silent’ . Retrieved from http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/new-report-finds-almost-half-of-all-heart-attacks-are-silent/news-story/2f40956dc49fbe4a82a7931577d5fe38