Sunday, December 15, 2002

MSNBC -- Fish points way to new heart therapy

In a step toward finding ways to help ailing human hearts repair themselves, researchers have shown that the tiny zebrafish is able to totally regenerate cardiac muscle and fully recover after about 20 percent of its heart has been surgically removed.

SCIENTISTS SAID the work boosts efforts by many researchers to find ways to grow new, healthy cells to replace scarred heart tissue in cardiac patients, a goal still many years away.

John Fakunding, head of a heart research program at the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, one of the National Institutes of Medicine, said Keating has now created a laboratory model that may be used to learn how to grow new heart tissue in humans.

“There is a lot of focus on repairing the heart using regenerative medicine, or growing new cells,” said Fakunding. Most researchers are using stem cells, but Keating’s approach addresses the problem on a more basic, genetic level and is looking at how to cause the heart to grow healthy muscle instead of scar tissue, he said.

“It may eventually be very applicable to humans and become a treatment for damaged hearts,” said Fakunding.

The march of science, from zebra fish to genetic heart cures..

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