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A UCC professor has shown in a world-first trial that low dose insulin-like growth factor that is injected into the heart to repair damage to the muscle, can improve remodelling for heart attack patients. Professor Noel Caplice, Chair of Cardiovascular Sciences at UCC, and his cardiologist colleagues at Cork University Hospital successfully tested the growth factor in the clinical trial (RESUS-AMI), funded by a €1 million grant under the joint HRB-SFI Translational Research Award programme.

ABOVE: Professor Noel Caplice, Chair of Cardiovascular Sciences, UCC; John Nolan from New Ross, a participant on the trial and his wife Margaret. Photo: Clare Keogh.

Around 20 per cent of those who experience heart attacks suffer with severe ongoing difficulties as a result of lasting damage to heart muscle, even after the best current therapies. This often leads to patients developing long-term heart failure, associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Forty seven patients who had experienced large attacks were tested in the trial. They received two different low dose preparations of insulin-like growth factor or placebo in a randomised double blinded clinical trial. The results indicated that those who received the higher dose had improved remodelling of their heart muscle in the two-month follow-up post heart attack, correlating with other measures of improved heart performance.

Professor Noel Caplice, Chair of Cardiovascular Sciences, UCC said: “We hope that these findings can be replicated in potentially larger trials of many hundred subjects in the future.  The research, which has been recognised and peer-reviewed by the European Society of Cardiology, was first presented at the Heart Failure 2017 conference in Paris at the end of April.