Cardiac muscle cells die due to a lack of blood flow,during a heart attack, but researchers at Stanford University have identified a protein that can be administered via a patch to help repair that damage. There is currently no effective treatment to reverse the scarring in the heart after heart attacks, this finding may open door to a completely revolutionary treatment of heart attack patients. Protein Fstl1 played a key role in regenerating dead heart muscle cells in pigs and mice. Epicardium,the inner layer of the pericardium that covers the heart, played a role in the healing process after a heart attack. In the animals, the team found that Fstl1, a protein secreted by the epicardium, contributed to the growth of cardiomyocytes, which are cardiac muscle cells. The patch consisted of acellular collagen and was altered to emulate the mechanics of the epicardium. Acellular collagen was an ideal material because it didn’t require the administration of an immuno-suppressant, and its elasticity was similar to that of a fetal heart shaping perfect landscape for muscle regeneration, as new blood vessels also regenerated at the site of application. The collagen itself ended up being absorbed into the organ. A clinical trial involving the same therapy could begin as early as 2017.