Heart attack or myocardial infraction is caused by the sudden blocking of one of the cardiac coronary arteries and is the main cause of heart failure. According to the World Health Organization, this condition effects over 23 million people across the world.
Currently, patients are left with a permanent structural damage if and when they survive a heart attack, through the formation of a scar. But this can lead to heart attacks in future.
Recently, scientists have developed a gene therapy that can induce heart cells to regenerate and repair the damage caused by a heart attack.
The study, published in the journal Nature stated that a small piece of genetic material called microRNA -199 was delivered by the scientists to the hearts of pigs who had had a myocardial infraction. The results were an almost complete recovery of the function of the heart within a month.
Mauro Giacca, from King’s College London said, “It is a very exciting moment for the field. After so many unsuccessful attempts at regenerating the heart using stem cells, which all have failed so far, for the first time we see real cardiac repair in a large animal.”
It is the first time that cardia regeneration has been observed in such a large animal species with the heart anatomy and physiology similar to humans by administering an effective drug that stimulates cardiac regeneration.
“It will take some time before we can proceed to clinical trials,” Giacca said in a statement. He also added, “We still need to learn how to administer the RNA as a synthetic molecule in large animals and then in patients, but we already know this works well in mice.”