A mouse heart cell with 2 nuclei (blue) and Singheart RNA labelled by red fluorescent dyes. Unlike most other cells in the human body, heart cells do not have the ability to self-repair effectively, making heart attack and heart failure severe and debilitating

‘Singheart’ molecule could mean heart cells self-repair

Damaged heart cells could potentially self-heal with a ground-breaking discovery in the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

Researchers have identified a non-coding acid that regulates genes and controls the ability of heart cells to undergo repair or regeneration.


Unlike most other cells in the human body, heart cells do not have the ability to self-repair effectively, making heart attack and heart failure severe and debilitating.

This novel RNA, which researchers have named ‘Singheart,’ may be targeted for treating heart failure in the future.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death worldwide, with an estimated 17.7 million people dying from CVD in 2015.

CVD also accounted for close to 30 per cent of all deaths in Singapore in 2015 where the research was carried out.

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A mouse heart cell with 2 nuclei (blue) and Singheart RNA labelled by red fluorescent dyes. Unlike most other cells in the human body, heart cells do not have the ability to self-repair effectively, making heart attack and heart failure severe and debilitating

A mouse heart cell with 2 nuclei (blue) and Singheart RNA labelled by red fluorescent dyes. Unlike most other cells in the human body, heart cells do not have the ability to self-repair effectively, making heart attack and heart failure severe and debilitating

HOW DOES ‘SINGHEART’ WORK?

This novel RNA, which researchers have named ‘Singheart,’ may be targeted for treating heart failure in the future.

RNA acts as a vehicle for DNA to synthesise proteins in all living cells.

In contrast to the skin where the scab falls off and new skin grows over, the heart lacks such a capability to self-heal, and suffers a permanent scar instead.

The team discovered that a unique subpopulation of heart cells in diseased hearts.

They were able to activate gene programmes related to heart cell division for the first time.

In addition, they also found the ‘brakes’ that prevent heart cells from dividing and thus self-healing.

Targeting these ‘brakes’ could help trigger the repair and regeneration of heart cells.

The heart could heal itself

Scientists used single cell technology to explore gene expression patterns in healthy and diseased hearts.

They looked at a long non-coding ribonucleic acid (ncRNA).

RNA acts as a vehicle for DNA to synthesise proteins in all living cells.

This is what regulates genes and controls the ability of heart cells to undergo repair or regeneration.

‘There has always been a suspicion that the heart holds the key to its own healing, regenerative and repair capability’, said lead author Roger Foo from the Cardiovascular Research Institute (CVRI) and National University Heart Centre, Singapore (NUHCS).

‘But that ability seems to become blocked as soon as the heart is past its developmental stage.

‘Our findings point to this potential block that when lifted, may allow the heart to heal itself’, he said.

The heart could heal like the skin

In contrast to the skin where the scab falls off and new skin grows over, the heart lacks such a capability to self-heal, and suffers a permanent scar instead.

‘If the heart can be motivated to heal like the skin, consequences of a heart attack would be banished forever,’ said Dr Foo.

The team discovered that a unique subpopulation of heart cells in diseased hearts.

They were able to activate gene programmes related to heart cell division for the first time.

This novel RNA, which researchers have named 'Singheart,' may be targeted for treating heart failure in the future (stock image)

This novel RNA, which researchers have named ‘Singheart,’ may be targeted for treating heart failure in the future (stock image)

Targeting the heart’s ‘brakes’

In addition, they also found the ‘brakes’ that prevent heart cells from dividing and thus self-healing.

Targeting these ‘brakes’ could help trigger the repair and regeneration of heart cells.

‘This new research is a significant step towards unlocking the heart’s full regenerative potential, and may eventually translate to more effective treatment for heart diseases’, said Dr Mark Richards, director of CVRI.

‘Heart disease is the top disease burden in Singapore and strong funding remains urgently needed to enable similar groundbreaking discoveries,’ he said.

Researchers hope this breakthrough will help serve as a strong foundation for future heart studies.

‘Uncovering barriers that stand in the way of heart cells’ self-healing process brings us another step closer to finding a cure for one of the world’s biggest killers’, said Dr Ng Huck Hui director of the Genome Institute of Singapore.

Posted on; DailyMail>>

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