Washington: A cocktail of three specific genes can reprogram cells in the scars caused by heart attacks into functioning muscle cells, and the addition of a gene that stimulates the growth of blood vessels enhances that effect, researchers say.“The idea of reprogramming scar tissue in the heart into functioning heart muscle was exciting,” Dr. Todd K. Rosengart, corresponding author of the study from Baylor College of Medicine, said.“The theory is that if you have a big heart attack, your doctor can just inject these three genes into the scar tissue during surgery and change it back into heart muscle. However, in these animal studies, we found that even the effect is enhanced when combined with the VEGF gene,” he said.During a heart attack, blood supply is cut off to the heart, resulting in the death of heart muscle. The damage leaves behind a scar and a much weakened heart. Eventually, most people who have had serious heart attacks will develop heart failure.Changing the scar into heart muscle would strengthen the heart. To accomplish this, during surgery, Rosengart and his colleagues from Weill Cornell Medical College and Stony Brook University Medical Center transferred three forms of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) gene that enhances blood vessel growth or an inactive material (both attached to a gene vector) into the hearts of rats.
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