NOV 23, 2016 4:58 PM PST

Regenerating Hearts with Zebrafish Tissue

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker
Many organisms are capable of regenerating limbs. Why not humans? New research could help humans experience the benefits of regeneration, using components from a zebrafish to regenerate damaged and dead heart tissue.
Source: TerraMar Project
From the University of Pittsburgh, researchers applied extracellular matrices (ECMs) from zebrafish in mice and human heart cells in vitro. They found that a single administration of ECM taken from zebrafish hearts restored heart function and regenerated adult mouse heart tissues after acute myocardial infarction, also known as a heart attack.

The ECM in organisms, like zebrafish, provides the “architectural foundation” for tissues and organs, as well as structure for growth, migration, and signaling for development and, for some species, regeneration.

"It's difficult to inject foreign cells into a body because the body will recognize them as foreign and reject them; that's not the case with ECM," Wang said. “Because ECMs are composed of collagen, elastin, carbohydrates and signaling molecules and have no cell surface markers, DNA or RNA from the donor, the recipient is less likely to reject the treatment.”

Wang’s study showed the protective influence provided by zebrafish ECM on human cardiomyocytes from stress. Zebrafish can regenerate up to twenty percent of a damaged or even completely removed zebrafish heart.

"The heart beats as if nothing has happened to it," Wang said. "Our approach is really simple."

In the future, Wang and his group plan on regenerating nerves in mammals based on the same science and expanding heart treatments from this study to larger animals in future studies. His present study was recently published in the journal Science Advances.

Source: University of Pittsburgh
About the Author
Master's (MA/MS/Other)
I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog:
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