You sure can mend a broken heart and stop believing in the popular wisdom that says the opposite, a research says.
Indian origin researcher Dr Kishore Pasumarthi of Dalhousie Medical School in Canada, who first found a way to prompt heart muscle cells to divide in adult heart muscle tissue, is determined to prove the old wisdom wrong.
Cell division in the heart stops in early infancy, which is why heart muscle cells that die in heart attacks are replaced by scar tissue instead of new cells. This damage can lead to heart failure and life-threatening arrhythmias.
"We are working with cell-cycle proteins the ones that control cell division. By putting these proteins into damaged heart tissues, we are finding we can repair the infarct damage," Pasumarthi says.
Pasumarthi believes his approach could heal heart attack damage, prevent heart failure and potentially deadly arrhythmias.
Originally trained in veterinary medicine and biotechnology in India, Pasumarthi made the transition to biomedical research during his PhD training at the University of Manitoba.
He has established his own myocardial regeneration research programme at Dalhousie Medical School. He's working with stem cells as well as cell-cycle proteins.
"I'm going a step beyond stem cell transplants," says Pasumarthi. "As the stem cells start to differentiate into various cell types, I'm identifying and isolating the cardiac progenitor cells into a pure culture."
He will then transplant the cardiac progenitor cells into damaged hearts to see if they develop into functional heart muscle cells. Another project aims to prevent heart attack damage by blocking cell-death pathways in the heart.