Researchers used molecules called microRNAs to convert scar tissue (called fibroblasts) into heart muscle cells.
When someone suffers a heart attack, scar tissue forms over the damaged areas of the heart, reducing the organ’s function. In a new study, scientists successfully turned this scar tissue into working heart muscle without the use of stem cells.
Duke University researchers used molecules called microRNAs to convert scar tissue (called fibroblasts) into heart muscle cells in a living mouse, improving the heart’s ability to pump blood.
According to the scientists, this process is much simpler than stem cell transplants and has none of the ethical concerns, making it a potential turning point in the science of tissue regeneration.
“Right now, there’s no good evidence stem cells can do the job,” senior author Dr. Victor Dzau, a James B. Duke professor of medicine and chancellor of health affairs at Duke University, told FoxNews.com.
Scientists believe embryonic stem cells are the best to use for tissue regeneration because they are pluripotent—meaning they can become any type of cell in the body. However, Dzau said there have not been enough experiments done to prove how functional the stem cells are in regenerating tissues and whether or not they may form deadly tumors.