Using the same technology responsible for the development of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, researchers from King’s College London are working on creating the first ever cure that will reverse the damages of a heart attack!
By employing mRNA, they delivered genetic instructions for specific proteins to pig hearts with damage, managing to spark the growth of brand new cardiac muscle cells!
Mauro Giacca, the study’s lead researcher, shared via The Times of London that “The new cells would replace dead ones and instead of forming scars, the patient has new muscle tissue.”
This is obviously great news considering the fact that heart disease is the leading cause of death globally.
According to WHO, no less than 17 million people have lost their lives because of cardiovascular disease only in the year 2019, which amounts to nearly a third of all deaths!
Out of all of those, 85 percent died of strokes and heart attacks.
Heart attacks happen as a result of blood flow to parts of the heart getting blocked, most of the time because of cholesterol or fat building up.
That being said, cardiac muscle cells no longer receive enough oxygen, getting seriously damaged or even killed, resulting in scar tissue that cannot be repaired – at least not until now!
Giacca explained via The Times that “We’re all born with a set number of muscle cells in our hearts and they’re exactly the same ones we’ll die with. The heart has no capacity to fix itself after a heart attack.”
Here’s where mRNA technology comes in!
While in the case of the anti-COVID vaccines it instructs cells to produce the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, teaching them how to recognize it and defend the body against it, in the case of a heart attack, it could carry the code for growth stimulating proteins for new heart cells, according to PharmaTimes.
The experiment featured a close match for the human heart – pig hearts – and sure enough, the mRNA treatment proved efficient in stimulating the growth of functional new heart cells in the aftermath of a heart attack.
For now, the method has only been used on pig hearts but the team is hopeful that human clinical trials will start in the next couple of years.
Giacca stated that “Regenerating a damaged human heart has been a dream until a few years ago but can now become a reality.”