Heart attack recovery may be improved, thanks to a lucky accident

iStock_000008974586SmallResearchers can learn a lot through carefully planned, well-designed research studies. But sometimes, they can learn just as much from completely unexpected outcomes.

Take Viagra, for example. (Or if you’re a woman… don’t.) It was originally intended as a treatment for high blood pressure and heart disease, but an unexpected side effect made for quite a few happy men (and women)!

In the latest unexpected outcome, researchers were using charged microparticles to study West Nile virus, but a batch of microparticles were accidentally given a negative charge. When this happened, the microparticles bound to certain proteins on monocytes and sent those monocytes to the spleen for destruction. This is important because monocytes are responsible for a lot of the damage done to the heart muscle in the days following a heart attack. 12 hours after a heart attack, treated mice had lesions half the size of control mice, and their hearts pumped more efficiently! They also found an improvement in mouse models of multiple sclerosis, IBS, and kidney injuries with this treatment! Next step: human clinical trials in an attempt to limit tissue damage after heart attacks. This was a pretty good mistake!