Tokyo: Japanese researchers have found a method to regenerate heart cells, the Nikkei daily reported Monday.
The discovery could facilitate the recovery of patients suffering from cardiac arrests and reduce their physical consequences.
The system involves modification of the genes of fibroblasts, a type of cells that play a very important role in healing and the production of collagen, a structural protein of the various connective tissues in animals, into cardiac muscles.
In experiments conducted with rats, the researchers managed to reprogramme heart fibroblasts of these animals to turn them into cardiomyocytes, adding five types of genes and a type of ribonucleic acid.
It took up to a month for this conversion to take place.
If effective in human beings, this method could offer a faster alternative than other ones that are currently being tested to develop cardiamyocytes or cardiac muscles from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells (adult cells that have been genetically reprogrammed back to embryonic-like state).
Moreover, this process would be less aggressive for the patients as it consists of injecting the "cocktail" of genes directly into the heart to induce cellular reprogrammation whereas the method based on iPS requires open heart surgery.
The discovery, coordinated by Ieda Masaki, professor at Keio University, will be published in the European scientific journal EMBO Journal, Nikkei revealed.