Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gene therapy reprograms scar tissue in damaged hearts into healthy heart muscle

Date:
January 4, 2013
Source:
Weill Cornell Medical College
Summary:
A cocktail of three specific genes can reprogram cells in the scars caused by heart attacks into functioning muscle cells, and the addition of a gene that stimulates the growth of blood vessels enhances that effect, said researchers.

A cocktail of three specific genes can reprogram cells in the scars caused by heart attacks into functioning muscle cells, and the addition of a gene that stimulates the growth of blood vessels enhances that effect, said researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College, Baylor College of Medicine and Stony Brook University Medical Center in a report that appears online in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

"The idea of reprogramming scar tissue in the heart into functioning heart muscle was exciting," said Dr. Todd K. Rosengart, chair of the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery at BCM and the report's corresponding author. "The theory is that if you have a big heart attack, your doctor can just inject these three genes into the scar tissue during surgery and change it back into heart muscle. However, in these animal studies, we found that even the effect is enhanced when combined with the VEGF gene."

"This experiment is a proof of principle," said Dr. Ronald G. Crystal, chairman and professor of genetic medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and a pioneer in gene therapy, who played an important role in the research. "Now we need to go further to understand the activity of these genes and determine if they are effective in even larger hearts."

During a heart attack, blood supply is cut off to the heart, resulting in the death of heart muscle. The damage leaves behind a scar and a much weakened heart. Eventually, most people who have had serious heart attacks will develop heart failure.

Changing the scar into heart muscle would strengthen the heart. To accomplish this, during surgery, Rosengart and his colleagues transferred three forms of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) gene that enhances blood vessel growth or an inactive material (both attached to a gene vector) into the hearts of rats. Three weeks later, the rats received either Gata4, Mef 2c and Tbx5 (the cocktail of transcription factor genes called GMT) or an inactive material. (A transcription factor binds to specific DNA sequences and starts the process that translates the genetic information into a protein.)

The GMT genes alone reduced the amount of scar tissue by half compared to animals that did not receive the genes, and there were more heart muscle cells in the animals that were treated with GMT. The hearts of animals that received GMT alone also worked better as defined by ejection fraction than those who had not received genes. (Ejection fraction refers to the percentage of blood that is pumped out of a filled ventricle or pumping chamber of the heart.)

The hearts of the animals that had received both the GMT and the VEGF gene transfers had an ejection fraction four times greater than that of the animals that had received only the GMT transfer.

Rosengart emphasizes that more work needs to be completed to show that the effect of the VEGF is real, but it has real promise as part of a new treatment for heart attack that would minimize heart damage.

"We have shown both that GMT can effect change that enhances the activity of the heart and that the VEGF gene is effective in improving heart function even more," said Dr. Crystal.

The idea started with the notion of induced pluripotent stem cells -- reprograming mature specialized cells into stem cells that are immature and can differentiate into different specific cells needed in the body. Dr. Shinya Yamanaka and Sir John B. Gurdon received the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology for their work toward this goal this year.

However, use of induced pluripotent stem cells has the potential to cause tumors. To get around that, researchers in Dallas and San Francisco used the GMT cocktail to reprogram the scar cells into cardiomyocytes (cells that become heart muscle) in the living animals.

Now Rosengart and his colleagues have gone a step farther -- encouraging the production of new blood vessels to provide circulation to the new cells.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Weill Cornell Medical College. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Megumi Mathison, Robert P. Gersch, Ahmed Nasser, Sarit Lilo, Mallory Korman, Mitchell Fourman, Neil Hackett, Kenneth Shroyer, Jianchang Yang, Yupo Ma, Ronald G. Crystal, and Todd K. Rosengart. In Vivo Cardiac Cellular Reprogramming Efficacy Is Enhanced by Angiogenic Preconditioning of the Infarcted Myocardium With Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor. J Am Heart Assoc., December 19, 2012 DOI: 10.1161/JAHA.112.005652

Cite This Page:

Weill Cornell Medical College. "Gene therapy reprograms scar tissue in damaged hearts into healthy heart muscle." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130104155100.htm>.
Weill Cornell Medical College. (2013, January 4). Gene therapy reprograms scar tissue in damaged hearts into healthy heart muscle. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130104155100.htm
Weill Cornell Medical College. "Gene therapy reprograms scar tissue in damaged hearts into healthy heart muscle." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130104155100.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Cost of Ebola

The Cost of Ebola

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 18, 2014) As Sierra Leone prepares for a three-day "lockdown" in its latest bid to stem the spread of Ebola, Ciara Lee looks at the financial implications of fighting the largest ever outbreak of the disease. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
What HealthKit Bug Means For Your iOS Fitness Apps

What HealthKit Bug Means For Your iOS Fitness Apps

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) Apple has delayed the launch of the HealthKit app platform, citing a bug. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Food Makers Surpass Calorie-Cutting Pledge

U.S. Food Makers Surpass Calorie-Cutting Pledge

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) Sixteen large food and beverage companies in the United States that committed to cut calories in their products far surpassed their target. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Residents Vaccinated as Haiti Fights Cholera Epidemic

Residents Vaccinated as Haiti Fights Cholera Epidemic

AFP (Sep. 18, 2014) Haitians receive the second dose of the vaccine against cholera as part of the UN's vaccination campaign. Duration: 00:34 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins