While human skin is masterful at healing small cuts and grazes, often returning to an unblemished appearance over time, the adult human heart has little capacity for regeneration and repair. Injuries, such as those caused by a transient lack of blood flow (heart attack), can leave the muscle permanently scarred and the heart’s function diminished. Researchers are therefore hunting for ways to reactivate in injured adult hearts the processes of muscle cell division and growth that are normally switched-off after heart development. And these red dots within the mouse heart cell pictured may be just the ticket. They are molecules of an RNA called Singheart, which orchestrates the expression of several genes involved in heart muscle growth. While research into Singheart is still in its early stages, if boosting the RNA does indeed incite tissue regeneration, it may offer a way to coax hearts to fix themselves.
Written by Ruth Williams
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