COLUMBIA, Mo. -

Researchers from the University of Missouri Cardiovascular Center have found a new way to treat babies born with congenital heart disease.

Congenital heart disease affects one out of every 125 babies and is the most common birth defect.

This study was aimed at treating babies with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a weakening of the heart caused by abnormally thick muscle.

The study finds that by suppressing a faulty protein, the thickness of the diseased heart is reduced and the heart's function gets better.

Maike Drenz, M.D., has been studying hypertrophic cardiomyopathy for more than 10 years, and today she says she may have found a new treatment.

Krenz found that she could interrupt the diseased heart's hypersensitive growth signals by giving it a certain chemical compound.

This compound is called PSPS1 and works by reducing the faulty protein that causes the heart to become thick.

"We can pin point which other proteins are unregulated, work too hard, or are hyper stimulated, and then are given drugs in order to turn response down and bring cells back to the normal level," said Krenz.

Right now, the compound is still in its experimental phase and is just being used on infant rat hearts.

"Now only time will tell how much use this can be in the clinical population. At this point we are very optimistic," said Krenz.

And Krenz says its not just babies with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy that this compound could help.

She says it could also work on adults and possibly even those diagnosed with other forms of heart disease.

"We really hope to understand the protein much better by developing other forms of heart disease that could be impacted," said Krenz.

Dr. Krenz says she got new funding from the National Institutes of Health to further her research.