AUG 23, 2017 5:05 PM PDT

"Singheart" RNA Unlocks the Heart's Full Regenerative Potential

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

Self-driving cars? How about self-healing heart cells? For a while scientists have been looking for ways to help heart cells heal after a heart attack, looking at the infamous regenerative capabilities of the model organism zebrafish and at the possibility of inserting stem cells into the heart to induce regeneration. Now, researchers from the A*STAR Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) and the National University Health System (NUHS) suggest that the heart can heal on its own, it just needs a little push.

A mouse heart cell with 2 nuclei (blue) and Singheart RNA labelled by red fluorescent dyes. Credit: A*STAR's Genome Institute of Singapore

"There has always been a suspicion that the heart holds the key to its own healing, regenerative and repair capability,” explained lead author of the new Nature Communications study Roger Foo. “But that ability seems to become blocked as soon as the heart is past its developmental stage.”

Foo is talking about a subset of cells controlled by a long non-coding ribonucleic acid (ncRNA) that Foo and colleagues are lovingly referring to as “Singheart.” Ironically, non-coding RNA and DNA are often thought of as “junk” because they don’t code for proteins and their function is not well understood.

Using a single-cell approach, researchers looked at the transcriptomes of cardiomyocytes (heart cells), producing a dataset that could tell them what proteins were being made by cellular genetic material. Most importantly, the researchers compared transcriptomes between healthy hearts and diseased hearts, like those that had experienced a heart attack.

They found that Singheart regulates genes controlling heart cells’ regenerative abilities that are muted soon after development. If adult heart cells can’t repair damage, what’s done is done following a heart attack, so it’s not surprising that cardiovascular disease is the leading killer of humans across the globe.

But what if the heart could heal itself following a heart attack? Altering Singheart to bring back the regenerative abilities that are present when the heart is developing for the very first time would make recovery following a heart attack drastically different. Instead of heart cells dying and turning to scar tissue, a process called fibrosis that limits the heart’s function, heart cells would repair the damage or multiply to make up for the loss. Imagine the heart healing after a heart attack the way the skin heals after a skinned knee - no harm done.

Foo hopes that the present study will contribute to the breadth of knowledge for developing better heart disease treatments. He and his colleagues are dedicated to “unlocking the heart's full regenerative potential.”

Source: National University Health System

About the Author
  • 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: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
NOV 18, 2019
Cannabis Sciences
NOV 18, 2019
Frequent Marijuana Use Linked with Stroke and Arrhythmia
Research from two new preliminary studies presented at the American Heart Association’s (AHA) annual Scientific Se ...
MAR 25, 2020
Health & Medicine
MAR 25, 2020
Boosting Your Immunity to Avoid COVID-19 Infection
With the COVID-19 pandemic at the forefront of most people’s minds, you might be wondering what you can do to keep ...
APR 10, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
APR 10, 2020
Cardiac Patch Repairs Heart Attack Damage in Pigs and Rats
Heart attacks significantly damage cardiac tissue. Recovery time frames from a heart attack thus depend on the extent to ...
APR 16, 2020
Technology
APR 16, 2020
Technology Lights The Way For Safer Imaging Techniques
Current imaging techniques rely on the possibility of harmful radiation. To challenge that, researchers at John Hopkins ...
MAY 20, 2020
Cardiology
MAY 20, 2020
Hearts Beat Differently to Music
Does some music relax you, does other music excite you? There is a physiological response to music, and your heart may b ...
MAY 25, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
MAY 25, 2020
Hydrochloroquine Increases Risk of Death by COVID-19
Researchers have found that hydroxychloroquine is not an effective treatment for COVID-19. Their study found that it lea ...
Loading Comments...