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Gladstone Scientists Regenerate Damaged Hearts By Transforming Scar Tissue into Beating Heart Muscle

Cool medical news out of the Gladstone Institutes (affiliated with UC San Francisco):

"The damage from a heart attack is typically permanent because heart-muscle cells — deprived of oxygen during the attack — die and scar tissue forms," said [Deepak] Srivastava, a UCSF professor who directs cardiovascular and stem cell research at Gladstone, an independent and nonprofit biomedical-research institution. "But our experiments in mice are a proof of concept that we can reprogram non-beating cells directly into fully functional, beating heart cells — offering an innovative and less invasive way to restore heart function after a heart attack."

In laboratory experiments with mice that had experienced a heart attack, Qian and Srivastava delivered three genes that normally guide embryonic heart development — together known as GMT — directly into the damaged region. Within a month, non-beating cells that normally form scar tissue transformed into beating heart-muscle cells. Within three months, the hearts were beating even stronger and pumping more blood.

Next is to test if the technique scales up larger animals.