Most of the cells in our body — such as blood, hair, and skin cells — are capable of regeneration. But that’s not true of the heart.
Heart attacks are particularly devastating not only because they block the flow of blood to the heart, which can result in death, but also because they damage heart muscle cells in those who survive.
And once this cardiac muscle is damaged, it cannot be regenerated.
Or can it? A team of Israeli and Australian researchers report that they recently succeeded regrowing cardiac muscle in mice.
For this study, the researchers focused on “neuregulin,” a protein that plays an essential role in the heart’s cardiac-signaling capabilities.
Previous studies had found that heart muscle cells could be regrown, but only in amounts that were too small to make a difference.
However, these researchers found that by “turbo charging” the neuregulin pathway, they were able to boost the replacement of heart muscle in mice by an unprecedented 45 percent.
They are hoping that this discovery will pave the way for new heart attack treatments, and ultimately find a way for the heart to regrow and heal.
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