APR 08, 2015 9:16 AM PDT

Turbo-Charging Hormone Can Regrow the Heart

WRITTEN BY: Judy O'Rourke
Researchers have discovered a way to stimulate muscle regrowth in the heart of a mouse, opening up prospects of new treatments for many who suffer heart attacks each year.

The animal study found it was possible to regenerate muscle cell numbers in the heart by up to 45 percent by ‘turbo-charging' a hormone that helped coordinate cell growth.

According to study lead author, associate professor Richard Harvey, PhD, UNSW, based at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, New South Wales, Australia, this is an important step toward repairing a broken heart.

"Unlike blood, hair, or skin cells, which can renew themselves throughout life, cell division in the heart virtually comes to a standstill shortly after birth, which means the heart can't fully regenerate if it is damaged later in life," Harvey says.

"Previous studies have demonstrated that it is possible to coax heart muscle cells to proliferate again, but only at very trivial levels," he says. "What the research team has been able to do is boost heart muscle cell numbers by as much as 45 percent after a heart attack."

The scientists focused on a signalling system in the heart driven by a hormone called ‘neuregulin'.

By switching the neuregulin pathway to ‘turbo charge', the researchers found that heart muscle cells continued to divide in a spectacular way in both the adolescent and adult periods. Stimulating the neuregulin pathway during a heart attack led to replacement of lost muscle.

"This big achievement will focus the attention of the field on heart muscle cell replacement as a therapeutic option for ischemic heart disease," Harvey says. "The dream is that one day we will be able to regenerate damaged heart tissue, much like a salamander can regrow a new limb if it is bitten off by a predator. Just imagine if the heart could learn to regrow and heal itself. That would be the ultimate prize."

The research, conducted at the Weizmann Institute of Science in collaboration with the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, and titled "ERBB2 triggers mammalian heart regeneration by promoting cardiomyocyte dedifferentiation and proliferation," is published in Nature Cell Biology.

[Source: UNSW]
About the Author
  • Judy O'Rourke worked as a newspaper reporter before becoming chief editor of Clinical Lab Products magazine. As a freelance writer today, she is interested in finding the story behind the latest developments in medicine and science, and in learning what lies ahead.
You May Also Like
MAR 03, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
MAR 03, 2020
Smoking Cannabis Accelerates Biological Age
Although cannabis is increasingly recognized for its medicinal properties, it should only be used after considering its ...
MAR 25, 2020
Cardiology
MAR 25, 2020
Staying Fit While Avoiding COVID-19
For those used to working out at a gym, the current circumstances requiring us all to remain isolated as much as possibl ...
MAR 29, 2020
Cardiology
MAR 29, 2020
Coronavirus Damages Heart Tissue, Not Just the Lungs
Although most severe cases of the novel coronavirus involve respiratory failure, new research has found that the virus m ...
APR 13, 2020
Cardiology
APR 13, 2020
Computer Model Predicts How Drugs Affect Heart Rhythm
Cardiotoxicity, heart electrophysiology dysfunction or muscle damage,  is one of the most common reasons why drugs ...
APR 18, 2020
Cardiology
APR 18, 2020
Is Good Sleep Necessary for a Healthy Heart?
Over 50 million Americans reportedly have trouble sleeping. As research is increasingly finding that having a good night ...
MAY 15, 2020
Technology
MAY 15, 2020
What is HARVEY?
One of the biggest challenges facing clinical workers is trying to explore user interface treatment options easily witho ...
Loading Comments...