Although the heart is considered a terminally differentiated organ, new research that makes connections between developmental biology and regenerative medicine may help restore heart tissue after injury or chronic illness. Investigators have found that treatment with a small RNA family that is important during development can promote proliferation of cardiac muscle cells in adult mice (Tian Y et al. Sci Transl Med. 2015;7:279ra38).
The team, led by investigators at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, focused on the effects of miR302-367, a microRNA cluster that drives cell proliferation by blocking components of the Hippo signaling pathway that regulates organ size. Inhibiting this pathway allows cardiomyocytes to re-enter the cell cycle and begin to regrow heart muscle.
Hampton T. RNA Targeting Strategy Regenerates Heart Tissue in Adult Mice. JAMA. 2015;313(17):1703. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.4093