MAY 09, 2022 9:00 AM PDT

COVID-19 Vaccine Technique Guiding Heart Disease Research

WRITTEN BY: Zoe Michaud

The heart is made up in part of cardiomyocytes, specialized cells responsible for controlling heart beats. After a heart attack (myocardial infarction), there can be a significant loss of cardiomyocytes in the heart, increasing the likelihood of repeat heart attacks and subsequent heart failure. In a clinical setting, this is observable as a loss of volume in the heart muscle, and there are currently no therapies that replace these lost cardiomyocytes.

This leaves heart transplantation as the sole method of replacing lost heart muscle. Heart transplantation is an expensive, high-risk procedure that is extremely difficult to access. Due to the scarcity of available hearts for transplantation and the risks associated with the procedure, heart transplantations are reserved for those already experiencing heart failure. 

It has long been recognized that supplementing the heart muscle directly with additional cardiomyocytes would be an optimal method of repairing the damage caused by a heart attack. In past clinical trials, researchers have tried injecting these cells into intracoronary and intramyocardial tissue with little success. In these trials, over 90% of the cells were lost from the tissue after 24 hours. 

With these logistical challenges in mind, researchers at the University Medical Center Utrecht have utilized delivery techniques found to be successful in COVID-19 vaccines to deliver mRNA directly to the heart tissue. These mRNAs can then instruct the heart’s cells to repair themselves after a heart attack. The COVID-19 mRNA vaccines utilize small fat droplets called lipid nanoparticles to deliver mRNA to the body’s cells. The mRNA can then instruct the body’s cells—in the case of the COVID-19 vaccines, to create a protein like the one causing COVID-19 so that the body’s immune system can mount a response to the virus before being infected. 

In a preliminary study conducted on mice, the researchers using this delivery method found that the mRNA successfully reached the heart and remained there 24 hours after the injection. The scope of this study was solely to determine whether or not mRNA could reach the heart tissue through this method. This research could be used to guide additional studies to develop mRNAs specifically for the purpose of regenerating cardiomyocytes in the heart. 


Sources: Expert Review of Medical Diseases, Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine

About the Author
Biology
Zoe (she/her) is a science writer and a scientist working in genomics. She received her B.S. from the University of Connecticut with a focus in Evolutionary Biology. At Labroots, she focuses on writing scientific content related to clinical research and diagnostics.
You May Also Like
APR 05, 2022
Cardiology
Socioeconomic Deprivation Linked to Premature Cardiovascular Death
APR 05, 2022
Socioeconomic Deprivation Linked to Premature Cardiovascular Death
People living in socioeconomically deprived areas of the U.S. are more likely to die of heart disease.
APR 14, 2022
Cardiology
Sleep and Heart Health
APR 14, 2022
Sleep and Heart Health
Sleep is increasingly recognized as a key to maintaining heart health.
MAY 17, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
CDC Investigation into Severe Hepatitis Cases in over 100 Children: What to Know
MAY 17, 2022
CDC Investigation into Severe Hepatitis Cases in over 100 Children: What to Know
Over a hundred cases of hepatitis in children in the United States and four hundred worldwide are being investigated by ...
MAY 20, 2022
Health & Medicine
Second COVID Boosters Not Recommended for All Adults
MAY 20, 2022
Second COVID Boosters Not Recommended for All Adults
In previous studies in Israel, vaccine-induced COVID immunity was reported to decrease as early as three  ...
JUN 10, 2022
Neuroscience
Scientists Develop Neurobiological Model to Explore Creativity and Neural Networks
JUN 10, 2022
Scientists Develop Neurobiological Model to Explore Creativity and Neural Networks
A study published in Neuroscience found that different areas of the brain are activated depending on the type of creativ ...
JUL 01, 2022
Cell & Molecular Biology
Avoiding Eco-Fatigue
JUL 01, 2022
Avoiding Eco-Fatigue
Written by John Winsor The scientific industry is massive, with millions of lab workers generating biohazard bags full o ...
Loading Comments...