University of Houston researchers have developed a technique that, in mice, not only restores the heart muscle cells after a myocardial infarct (or heart attack) but also helps the cells regenerate. It has the potential to develop into a powerful clinical strategy for treating heart disease in people. The method delivers mutant transcription factors, which are proteins that regulate the conversion of DNA into RNA using synthetic messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA). The researchers demonstrated that two mutated transcription factors, Stemin and YAP5SA, work in tandem to increase the replication of cardiomyocytes, or heart muscle cells.
Stemin and YAP5SA repaired damaged mouse hearts in vivo. “The lab found cardiac myocytes multiplied quickly within a day, while hearts over the next month were repaired to near normal cardiac pumping function with little scarring,” researchers said in a published study. They worked on this study for several years. The study was funded in part through the University of Houston, a Cullen Endowed Chair, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Leducq Foundation, and a sponsored research agreement from Animatus Biosciences, LLC.