Coaxing heart cells to regenerate using microRNAs -
New research has found that a small proportion of heart cells — less than 1% — can regenerate themselves normally. After a heart attack that proportion goes up, but only to 3%.
A second group of researchers at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in Italy have investigated whether the heart cell regeneration process can be boosted using small snippets of RNA (microRNAs) to stimulate heart cells to start regenerating.
In contrast to stem cell-based approaches, which aim to integrate new cells into the heart, microRNAs (miRNAs) could potentially be a way of “waking up existing cardiomyocytes immediately adjacent to an area of [heart] trauma, still in their native environment, so they can proliferate” and by-pass the challenges faced when implanting stem-cell derived cariomyocytes.
Results are promising in the mice & rat models used. If the study can be reproduced & if the microRNAs work similarly in human cardiac cells, this may be a major breakthrough.
More info: http://bit.ly/SP8ENt http://bit.ly/Vxi7h0
Journal articles: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature11682 http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature11739