New research could lead to a gene therapy treatment for heart disease
Unfortunately for heart attack patients, heart cells don’t naturally replenish, so this vital organ stays permanently damaged. But now, Cambridge researchers have stumbled onto a gene that appears to trigger heart cell regeneration – and they did so by accident, while researching cancer treatments.
After a heart attack, the human heart will patch itself up with scar tissue. That helps keep the organ together, but this tissue doesn’t beat like healthy heart cells do. Over time, this leads to further attacks, heart failure and often death.
Scientists have been experimenting with ways to replenish heart cells, and promising leads so far include bioengineered scaffolds, placental stem cells, and boosting other cells around the heart.