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A. A Hormone that Helps Prevent Heart Muscle Death

Narrator: This is Science Today. A hormone that's similar to insulin has been found to help prevent heart muscle death. Dr. Ping Wang of the University of California, Irvine, says this hormone, called insulin-like growth factor 1 or IGF-1, could someday be used in gene therapy to improve the survival of cardiac muscle after a heart attack.

Wang: Adult cardiac muscle doesn't regenerate. Once you lose one muscle cell, you have a permanent loss of a function unit inside the heart. Therefore, one goal would be to try to preserve as much cardiac muscle cells as possible since you don't regenerate, you have to live with what you got.

Narrator: Wang says this protective hormone could one day be added along with current interventional treatments to offer heart muscle the most protection.

Wang: This myocardial protection idea is a relatively new concept. It has been developed mainly in the laboratory setting during the last few years, but I think we are now in the stage that we have enough information - we might be able to try to contemplate clinical studies to test our hypothesis.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.