Scar Tissue Becomes Healthy Heart Muscle
Turning tissue scarred by a heart attack back into healthy muscle tissue is possible, according to a team of researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College, Baylor College of Medicine, and Stony Brook University Medical Center. The study, published online in the Journal of the American Heart Association, shows that a "cocktail" of three genes can reprogram cells in the scars and that adding a gene that stimulates the growth of blood vessels enhances that effect.
A release from Weill Cornell quotes Dr. Todd K. Rosengart as saying, "The idea of reprogramming scar tissue in the heart into functioning heart muscle was exciting. The theory is that if you have a big heart attack, your doctor can just inject these three genes into the scar tissue during surgery and change it back into heart muscle." He adds that the effect is enhanced when combined with the VEGF gene.
Rosengart emphasizes that more work needs to be completed but he maintains that the discovery has real promise as part of a new treatment for heart attack that would minimize heart damage.