Scientists leading study that allows heart to heal itself

Washington: Scientists have made a breakthrough towards treatment for heart attack, by instructing the injured heart in mice to heal by triggering cardiovascular regeneration that is driven by native heart stem cells.

The study, conducted by Karolinska Institutet and Harvard University, shows that there was an effect on driving the formation of a small number of new cardiac muscle cells.

Kenneth Chien, a Professor at the medical university Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and Harvard University, US, said that this is the beginning of using the heart as a factory to produce growth factors for specific families of cardiovascular stem cells, and suggests that it may be possible to generate new heart parts without delivering any new cells to the heart itself.

The study is based upon another recent discovery in the Chien lab, which was published in Cell Research.

The study, performed in mice, shows that only a single administration of a short pulse of expression of VEGFA is required, if it can be delivered to the exact region where the heart progenitors reside.

The therapeutic effect is long term, as shown by markedly improved survival following myocardial infarction with a single administration of the synthetic mRNA when given within 48 hours after the heart attack.

The long-term effect appears to be based on changing the fate of the native heart stem cells from contributing to cardiac fibrotic scar tissue and towards cardiovascular tissue.

The study has been published in Nature Biotechnology.