Sanford Burnham Prebys researchers have identified a set of proteins that could be crucial for cellular reprogramming, a rapidly developing area in regenerative medicine. The study involved reprogramming damaged heart cells in mice after a heart attack to treat heart diseases, Parkinson’s, and neuromuscular disorders. This discovery has significant implications for the field of regenerative medicine.
Heart attack increases the risk of heart problems in the future
The study’s lead author, Alexandre Colas, Ph.D., said that a heart attack can cause long-term harm to the heart, even if the person survives the initial event. In addition, the study’s findings indicate the importance of helping the heart recover from injury and suggest that cell reprogramming could have more extensive medical applications.
Colas explained that cellular reprogramming has the potential to control the functioning and physical attributes of any cell, which can have significant implications in aiding the body’s self-regeneration. However, the application of this concept has been restricted to the laboratory due to obstacles in the reprogramming mechanisms.
Researchers have discovered four proteins named AJSZ that can help overcome reprogramming barriers. Despite research on heart cells, the team successfully reduced scarring and enhanced heart function by 50% by inhibiting these proteins. In addition, the researchers claim that these proteins are not exclusive to heart cells but are present in all cell types.
Researchers to identify ways to block AJSZ function in future
According to Colas, the recent breakthrough is a significant milestone for researchers in solving a major problem. Furthermore, it’s an essential step toward turning biological concepts into practical treatments. Additionally, the researchers aim to apply the breakthrough discovery to actual patients in the future by identifying effective ways to block AJSZ function. The most feasible approach currently is using a small molecule drug, as per Colas.
The researchers intend to screen for drugs to help control and selectively inhibit the proteins in the coming months. The ultimate goal is to discover a way to restrain these proteins in a controlled manner, ensuring that only the necessary cells are reprogrammed.