Regenerating Heart Muscle Cells For Cardiovascular Illnesses
The heart is one of the most powerful yet delicate organs in our body. It is the one to pump the blood in our body all throughout our lives, yet it never returns to its original state after a heart attack.
Heart attacks cause heart muscle cells to die, and instead of regenerating the muscle cells that were lost, the damaged cells are replaced with scar tissue. The reason why heart muscle cells cannot regenerate at all is that as we become an adult, those muscles lose their ability to divide and people usually live with the same muscle cells they developed as babies for their entire life (Science Daily). Only a fraction of those is regenerated. In one way, scar tissue prevents further damage from our hearts’ pumping motion (Johnson). On the other hand, scar tissue is unlike heart muscle because it does not contract and contribute to pumping blood. Because of that, great amounts of scar tissue can hinder the heart’s ability to pump blood, and great amounts of scar tissue become alarming in this case.
Researchers at Houston University found a technology that repairs and regenerates after a cardiac arrest. This technology was tried on mice and seems that it will be a light for further treatments. But before discussing this technology, we should understand the role of mRNA. Its role is to carry protein information to the cell’s cytoplasm from DNA in the nucleus (National Human Genome Research Institute). The messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) works as a messenger, as its name suggests. In this technique, a synthetic version of mRNA is used to deliver mutated proteins — that control the conversion of DNA into RNA — into the mouse hearts. In collaboration with other professors, an “infected adult mouse model”(4) was developed in order to continue the research and experiment. Researchers portrayed that Stemin and YAP5SA, which are two mutated transcription factors, are the ones crucial to the replication of heart muscle cells. Yet, this technology was only used extracted tissues instead of the mouse hearts themselves. Stemin “turns on stem cell-like properties from cardiomyocytes” (4) and it is crucial since it is the one to enable the cells to have a contractile cell, while YAP5SA promotes organ growth and replication (Science Daily).
When both Stemin and YAP5SA mutated transcriptions were injected into the tissue taken from adult mice, the experiment showed that the muscle cells regenerated hastily in a day and were repaired in a month’s time with minimal scarring and pumping functions near normal. Moreover, the synthetic mRNA disappears in a few days. This creates a sense of security, since most gene therapies raise concerns about biosafety (Science Daily).
Overall, the new findings on how to use these mutated transcriptions seem as though they will open new ways for heart muscles and present an opportunity and hope for all people who suffer from cardiovascular complications.
(1)Johnson, Helen. “What Role Does Scar Tissue Play in Recovery from Heart Disease?: Imperial News: Imperial College London.” Imperial News, 30 Aug. 2016, https://www.imperial.ac.uk/news/174206/what-role-does-scar-tissue-play/#:~:text=Scar tissue growing in your,our body%2C and us alive.
(2)“Heart Attack: What Is It, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment.” Cleveland Clinic, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16818-heart-attack-myocardial-infarction.
(3) “Messenger RNA (Mrna).” Genome.gov, https://www.genome.gov/genetics-glossary/messenger-rna#:~:text=The role of mRNA is,in a growing protein chain.
(4) “Biochemistry Researchers Repair and Regenerate Heart Muscle Cells.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 16 June 2022, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/06/220616142756.htm.