A number of new and innovative approaches for repairing damaged myocardium are currently undergoing investigation, with several encouraging results. In addition to the progression of stem cell-based approaches and gene therapy/silencing methods, evidence continues to emerge that protein therapeutics may be used to directly promote cardiac repair and even regeneration. However, proteins are often limited in their therapeutic potential by short local half-lives and insufficient bioavailability and bioactivity, and many academic laboratories studying cardiovascular diseases are more comfortable with molecular and cellular biology than with protein biochemistry. Protein engineering has been used broadly to overcome weaknesses traditionally associated with protein therapeutics and has the potential to specifically enhance the efficacy of molecules for cardiac repair. However, protein engineering as a strategy has not yet been used in the development of cardiovascular therapeutics to the degree that it has been used in other fields. In this review, we discuss the role of engineered proteins in cardiovascular therapies to date. Further, we address the promise of applying emerging protein engineering technologies to cardiovascular medicine and the barriers that must be overcome to enable the ultimate success of this approach.
Keywords: heart diseases; heart failure; peptides; proteins; receptors.