Gene therapy that can induce heart cells to regenerate after a heart attack has been developed by researchers from King's College London.
Myocardial infarction, more commonly known as a heart attack, caused by the sudden blocking of one of the cardiac coronary arteries, is the main cause of heart failure, a condition that now affects over 23 million population in the world, according to the World Health Organisation. At present, 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 lead to heart failure in the future. In contrast to fish and salamander, which can regenerate the heart throughout life.
In this study, published today in Nature, the team of investigators delivered a small piece of genetic material, called microRNA-199, to the heart of pigs, after a myocardial infarction which resulted in the almost complete recovery of cardiac function at one month later.
"It will take some time before we can proceed to clinical trials" explained Professor Giacca. "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".