CogniFit's Science blog: How Researchers Reprogram Brain Cells To Become Heart Cells

How Researchers Reprogram Brain Cells To Become Heart Cells

For the past decade, scientists have tried to reprogram a multitude of different cells to help treat different diseases. Being able to reprogram heart cells would allow doctors to replace the damage and lost tissue to help repair hearts.

Cardiovascular diseases being one of the leading factor of death in our modern society, there is a lot of interest to find new solutions.

Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania are the first to demonstrate the direct conversion of a non-heart cell type into a heart cell by RNA transfer which could enable personalized screening for efficacy of drug treatments, new drugs and potentially as a cellular therapeutic.

The results of this research will be presented this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Working on the idea that the signature of a cell is defined by molecules called messenger RNAs (mRNAs), which contain the chemical blueprint to make a protein, the researchers reprogrammed both an astrocyte (a star-shaped brain cell) and a fibroblast (a skin cell) into heart cells. This approach offers the possibility for cell-based therapy for cardiovascular diseases.

While we are still at the initial stage of research, it is interesting to see how new techniques are being explored that could lead to a breakthrough in curing heart disease. Like the brain, the heart can be seen as a muscle and is an essential component of the human body that needs to taken care of.