Scientists Report that Process of Converting Non-Beating Heart Cells into Functional, Beating Heart Cells is Enhanced Using Thymosin Beta 4 in Conjunction with Gene Therapy
ROCKVILLE, Md.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Apr 18, 2012 - RegeneRx Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: RGRX) (“the Company” or “RegeneRx”) announced today that scientists at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, University of California, San Francisco, have published new animal data in the current issue of Nature showing that the process of converting non-beating heart cells (which normally form scar tissue after a heart attack), into functional, beating heart muscle cells can be enhanced using Thymosin beta 4 (TÎ²4). Delivery of TÎ²4, in conjunction with GMT (an acronym for three genes that normally guide embryonic heart development), into the damaged region resulted in reduction of scar area and improvement in cardiac function compared to GMT or TÎ²4 alone. Within a month, non-beating cells that normally form scar tissue transformed into beating heart-muscle cells. Within three months, the hearts were beating even stronger and pumping more blood.
“Our experiments in mice are a proof of concept that we can reprogram non-beating cells directly into fully functional, beating heart cells – offering an innovative and less invasive way to restore heart function after a heart attack,” stated Dr. Deepak Srivastava, who directs cardiovascular and stem cell research at Gladstone and a member of RegeneRx's scientific advisory board.
“These findings could have a significant impact on heart-failure patients whose damaged hearts make it difficult for them to engage in normal activities like walking up a flight of stairs,” said Dr. Li Qian, PhD, who is a postdoctoral scholar at Gladstone and a member of Dr. Srivastava's research team. “This research may result in a much needed alternative to heart transplants for which donors are extremely limited. And because we are reprogramming cells directly in the heart, we eliminate the need to surgically implant cells that were created in a petri dish,” he further commented.
According to the Institute news release, “The results have broad human health implications” and are a “medical breakthrough [that] holds promise for millions with heart failure.”
The results are described in the latest issue of Nature, available online today.
About RegeneRx Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. (www.regenerx.com)
RegeneRx is focused on the development of a novel therapeutic peptide, Thymosin beta 4, or TÎ²4, for tissue and organ protection, repair and regeneration. RegeneRx currently has three drug candidates in Phase 2 clinical development and has an extensive worldwide patent portfolio covering its products.
RGN-259 is a sterile, preservative-free topical eye drop for ophthalmic indications. Based on a recently completed Phase 2 clinical trial in patients with dry eye syndrome, RGN-259 was found to show statistically significant improvements in several signs and symptoms of dry eye, as well as positive trends in other outcome measures. RGN-352 is an injectable formulation to treat cardiovascular and central nervous system diseases, as well as other medical indications. RegeneRx is initially targeting RGN-352 for the treatment of patients who have suffered an acute myocardial infarction, or heart attack. RGN-137, a topical gel formulation, is currently being evaluated by RegeneRx in a Phase 2 clinical trial for the treatment of the orphan skin disease epidermolysis bullosa. Other potential uses for RGN-137 include the treatment of chronic dermal wounds and reduction of scar tissue.
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Contact: For RegeneRx:
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Posted: April 2012