Researchers from King’s College London have discovered new genetic therapy that can induce heart cells to regenerate after a heart attack, a condition that is caused by sudden blocking of one of the cardiac coronary arteries and now affects over 23 million people in the world.
The technique to significantly reduce the risk of heart attacks involved inserting a gene into patients’ cells, a process known as gene therapy and works at correcting the effects of disease-causing mutation – something that can lead to treat heart disease rather than using medicines or surgery.
As per Science Daily, when a patient survives a heart attack, they are left with permanent structural damage to their heart through the formation of a scar, which can ultimately lead to heart failure in the future.
For this experiment, the team delivered a tiny piece of genetic material called microRNA-199 to the heart of pigs after a heart attack, which resulted in almost complete recovery of the cardiac function only a month later.
As explained by Express.co, a single injection is inserted into the blood stream, which then slips inside the cells and then releases a molecular gene editing kit. The aim for the genetic material is to mimic the natural mutation that protects against heart attacks.
Lead author Mauro Giacca said, “It is a very exciting moment for the field. After so many unsuccessful attempts at regenerating the heart using stem cells, which all have failed so far, for the first time we see real cardiac repair in a large animal.”
Giacca, however, clarified that the process needs more time in order to move on to the next stage of clinical trials. “We still need to learn how to administer the RNA as a synthetic molecule in large animals and then in patients, but we already know this works well in mice.”