Novel way to develop better, faster, stronger heart cells

New York, Nov 11 (IANS) In a major breakthrough, a team of researchers, including one of Indian origin, has identified two chemicals that can help develop heart cells that can beat harder, faster and stronger, bringing technology one step closer to regenerating damaged hearts.

Scientists from Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, in San Francisco, US, tested 5,500 chemicals, and identified two that can potentially transform a scar tissue into healthy beating heart muscle — a discovery that can help find new and effective treatments for heart failure.

The two chemicals increased eightfold the number of heart cells created, as well as sped up the process of cell conversion, achieving in one week what used to take six to eight weeks, the study said.

“The study discovered that chemically inhibiting two biological pathways active in embryonic formation improves the speed, quantity, and quality of the heart cells produced from our original process,” said senior author Deepak Srivastava, Director of the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease.

After suffering a heart attack, the connective tissues develop scar tissue, which then contribute to heart failure.

When the heart muscle gets damaged, the body is unable to repair the dead or injured cells.

According to researchers, the first chemical inhibits a growth factor that helps cells grow and divide and is important for repairing tissue after injury.

The second chemical inhibits an important pathway that regulates heart development.

By combining the two chemicals with the current method — of reprogramming connective tissue cells into heart muscle cells using certain proteins — the researchers successfully regenerated heart muscle and greatly improved heart function in mice that had suffered a heart attack.

In addition, the chemicals were also used to improve direct cardiac reprogramming of human cells, which is a more complicated process that requires additional factors, the researchers noted in the paper published in the journal Circulation.

–IANS

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