A group of British researchers successfully
After two days, the scientists observed that so called heartprogenitor cells started turning themselves into cardiomyocytesamassing around the heart’s outer layer. Within two weeks, thesenew cells moved to the inner layers and substituted those cellsthat were irreparably damaged through the earlier stroke. Thechoice for Tß4 fell as this protein was part of earlier studies.These studies showed that Tß4 activates heart progenitor cells withthe ability to turn them into blood vessels.
How exactly Tß4 triggered these cells to transform is notcompletely clear. Much points towards the interaction between Tß4and a gene from the progenitor cell. “We studied the activity of agene called Wt1, because we know that embryonic stem cellsexpressing Wt1 can become cardiomyocytes, but Wt1 is switched offin adults,” states Riley. The protein Tß4 would then chemicallychange the DNA of the cell and activate the sequencing of thisgenetic information, which is referred to as an epigeneticeffect.
Maurice van den Hoff, cardiac biologist at the Heart FailureResearch Center Amsterdam, commented on the study saying earlierattempts to regenerate cardiomyocytes involved lipid or bone-marrowstem cells. These stem cells, however, did not turn into perfectheart cell substitutes and could therefore offer no long-term curefor patients.
The approach from Riley’s team, by contrast, appeared moresuccessful and will now be followed up by clinical trials. Alas,until it is possible to take pills to recover from a stroke, muchtime will pass. New pharmaceuticals usually take between 10 and 15years to be approved.