Healing Heart Muscle

Heart muscle cellsScientists at the UNC School of Medicine have made a significant advance in the promising field of cellular reprogramming and organ regeneration, and the discovery could play a major role in future medicines to heal damaged hearts.

In a study published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill discovered a more streamlined and efficient method for reprogramming scar tissue cells to become healthy heart muscle cells.

Surprisingly, the key to the new technique turned out to be a gene activity-controlling protein called Ascl1, which is known to be a crucial protein involved in turning scar tissue cells into neurons. Researchers had thought Ascl1 was neuron-specific.

“It’s an outside-the-box finding, and we expect it to be useful in developing future cardiac therapies and potentially other kinds of therapeutic cellular reprogramming,” said study senior author Li Qian, PhD, associate professor in the UNC Department of Pathology and Lab Medicine and associate director of the McAllister Heart Institute at UNC School of Medicine.

Read more about the groundbreaking study…

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