Scientists at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease (GICD) have identified a growth factor in heart development that could hold the key to genetic therapies for cardiovascular diseases.
the study, published in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, focuses on the role of short RNAs in the early stages of organogenesis when the heart is developing. These RNAs also called as miRNAs, could play a key role in the future development of genetic strategies to deal with heart diseases. "Of all the medical disciplines that could potentially benefit from stem cell research, cardiology is among the most promising, but a better understanding of early heart development is crucial in order to move forward to stem cell-mediated therapies," said Deepak Srivastava, MD, GICD director and lead author of the study.
In the current study, researchers used Drosophila fly embryos as the model and identified that a miRNA called miR-1 was responsible for the formation of stem cells that ultimately gave rise to the heart. "miR-1 interferes with expression of a crucial gene that controls whether or not certain progenitor stem cells become heart cells. Thus it could be a target for future gene-mediated therapies to prevent early heart development problems." said Chulan Kwon, PhD, a GICD postdoctoral fellow and a co-author of the study. Zhe Han and Eric N. Olson of the Department of Molecular Biology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center were the other co-authors of this study.