When you think of the many wonderful cures scientists have discovered that allows us to live healthier and longer, I would think it’s safe to say we never even thought of this one. And if we do think about it the first thing we would think of is “Ewww”. Scientists have discovered that many heart problems can be treated by injecting pond scum into the heart. It has proven to be effective in mice and is now ready to be tested in humans.
Researchers are testing using pond bacteria to treat heart attack victims.
These bacteria use light to produce oxygen via photosynthesis, and when researchers injected it in the hearts of rats with heart disease, it increased oxygen flow and improved their heart function.
While still at an early stage of research, the bacterial therapy could potentially be a game-changer in treating heart disease in humans.
During a heart attack, flow of blood, and consequently oxygen, to the heart is blocked.
The interrupted blood and oxygen flow can cause damage or destroy part of the heart muscle.
The idea for the therapy came about when researchers looked for new ways to deliver oxygen to the heart when blood flow is restricted, says Dr Joseph Woo, the chair of cardiothoracic surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine and a senior author of the study.
‘The beauty of it is that it’s a recycling system,’ said Dr Woo.
‘You deliver the bacteria, they take up carbon dioxide, and with energy from the light, they form oxygen.
‘We thought there is an interesting relationship in nature.
‘In nature, humans exhale carbon dioxide and plants convert it back to oxygen.
‘During a heart attack, the muscle is still trying to pump.
‘There’s carbon dioxide but no oxygen.
‘We wondered if there were any way to use plant cells and put them next to heart cells to produce oxygen from the carbon dioxide.’
At first, the researchers tried grinding up spinach and kale and combining each with heart cells in a dish, but the plant organs responsible for photosynthesis – the chloroplasts – of those plants weren’t stable enough to survive outside of the plant cell.