A study of mice has shown that mature heart cells can not only replicate, but also improve the organs function, if there are given the right environment.
The researchers noted that a sponge-like patch, soaked in a compound called periostin, and placed over the injury can help heart cells to begin dividing and making copies of themselves again.
Periostin is a component of the material that surrounds cells and is derived from the skin around bone. Though the mature heart only has tiny amounts, it is abundant during foetal heart development, and increased amounts are also made after skeletal-muscle injury, bone fracture and blood vessel injury, stimulating mature, specialized cells to begin dividing again.
Dr. Bernhard Kuhn of the Department of Cardiology at Children's Hospital Boston led a study to theorise that placing periostin near the site of a myocardial infarction could help restore this growth-friendly environment, and get heart tissue to regenerate.
The researchers first stimulated mature, rod-shaped heart muscle cells (known as cardiomyocytes) with periostin in a Petri dish. About one per cent of the cells entered the mitotic cell cycle -- namely, they began dividing and replicating.
"We found a small subpopulation of cells that could, with proper stimulation, re-enter the cell cycle. "This finding supports the idea that differentiated cardiomyocytes can proliferate," Nature Medicine quoted Kuhn, who was awarded the Young Investigator's Award for this research by the American College of Cardiology in March, as saying.
Using a small patch fashioned from a sponge-like material called Gelfoam, the researchers then moved to experiments in rats with induced heart attacks. In half the rats, a patch that had been incubated with periostin was placed over the infarct site, while the rest received Gelfoam only.
Twelve weeks later, the treated patches were still releasing Page: 1 2 Related medicine news :1
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