Scientists are buzzing after finding that genetic codes used to formulate COVID vaccines could also be used to finding a way to regenerate hearts damaged from cardiac arrests.
The mRNA genetic code
In the UK alone, as many as 100,000 hospital admissions are caused by heart attacks. If researchers are successful in finding a way to model the key genetic code, known as mRNA, to stimulate cell regeneration for the heart, this could be the end of deaths caused by the condition. Professor Mauro Giacca explained:
We are all born with a set number of muscle cells in our heart and they are exactly the same ones we will die with. The heart has no capacity to repair itself after a heart attack. Our goal has been to find a treatment that can convince surviving cells to proliferate.
Regenerating a damaged human heart has been a dream until a few years ago, but can now become a reality. We are using exactly the same technology as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to inject micro RNAs to the heart, reaching surviving heart cells and pushing their proliferation. The new cells would replace the dead ones and instead of forming a scar, the patient has new muscle tissue.
Human trials in the next two years
Researchers at King's college are now looking to experiment the technology on human trials within the next two years. So far, it has been successfully used to heal damaged pig hearts. Giacca went on to explain that:
We have identified three proteins which stop heart cells from dying by encouraging them to repair themselves. The idea is to now produce these proteins so they can be injected immediately after a heart attack – in the back of an ambulance or when the patient reaches the hospital.