UK researchers, at King’s College London, have announced that a new therapy has indeed been developed that will trigger cells in the heart to regenerate themselves after a heart attack.
A type of heart attack, referred to as myocardial infarction, is commonly caused by one of the cardiac coronary arteries being blocked suddenly. This type of heart attack is known as the leading contributing cause of heart failure, which the World Health Organization (WHO) reports is known to affect an estimated 23 million of the world’s population.
Up until this point, when an individual has and survives a heart attack, they are usually left with some sort of permanent structural damage. This damage, over time, can result in the forming of a scar, which has been shown to lead to future heart failure.
What scientists have discovered is that both fish and salamander are able to regenerate their hearts, and essentially repair any damage, through their entire lifetime.
With a new study, that was recently published in Nature, a team of scientists used a small portion of genetic materials, obtained from fish and salamander, that is referred to as microRNA-199. They injected the genetic material into the hearts of pig, after having suffered a myocardial infarction—with results showing an almost complete recovery of normal cardiac function within one short month.
This treatment shows that when the genetic material is injected into a large animal, with heart anatomy as well as physiology similar to that of humans, that cardiac regeneration can indeed take place.
Head of the School of Cardiovascular Medicine and Science at King’s College London, Professor Ajay Shah, is quick to state that although scientists are not anywhere near offering the treatment to human patients at this time, the procedure does appear to stimulate and help the heart to heal itself after a resulting heart attack. For cardiologists, this is nothing less than a holy grail.