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Your Gut Cells Can Regrow Your Heart, New Study Has Found

According to this new research, gut cells expressing heart genes in sea anemones can turn into other kinds of cells, such as those needed to regenerate damaged body parts, especially the human heart.

Your Gut Cells Can Regrow Your Heart, New Study Has Found

Regenerative healing may allow heart cells to regenerate.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a class of diseases that involve disorders in the heart or blood vessels. Cardiac diseases includes coronary artery diseases (CAD) such as angina and myocardial infarction (commonly known as a heart attack). Data compiled from more than 190 countries show heart disease remains the No. 1 global cause of death with 17.3 million deaths each year, and according to "Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics 2015 Update", this number is expected to rise to more than 23.6 million by 2030. One person dies every 33 seconds in India due to a heart attack and our country witnesses nearly 2 million heart attacks in a year. 

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According to a new research published in journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences we may be able to develop a process to regenerate tissues in the human heart. This process has been developed by borrowing a technique from an unusual source: a muscle-less and heart-less starlet sea anemone. Scientists have discovered genetic communication between human genes and stimulating regenerative healing that may allow heart cells to regenerate, an advancement that could lead to new therapies to treat cardiac diseases.

While the sea anemone doesn't have a heart, its body moves in a pulsing, wave-like way, similar to a heartbeat.

Study author Mark Martindale felt important to trace the evolutionary origin of muscle cells similar to ones that form our heart and attempted to analyse the function of its "heart genes,".

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The idea is that these genes have been around a long time and preceded the twitchy muscles that cover our skeleton,"says Martindale. Scientists have discovered a difference in the way these genes interact with one another, which may help explain its ability to regenerate.

"Our study shows that if we learn more about the logic of how genes that give rise to heart cells, talk to each other, muscle regeneration in humans might be possible," Martindale added.

These heart genes generate what engineers call lockdown loops in vertebrates and flies, which means that once the genes are turned on, they tell each other to stay on in an animal's cells for its entire lifetime. In other words, animals with a lockdown on their genes are not able to grow new heart parts or use those cells for other bodily functions.


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"This ensures that heart cells always stay heart cells and cannot become any other type of cell," Martindale said.

The findings suggest a mechanism for why the gut cells expressing heart genes in sea anemones can turn into other kinds of cells, such as those needed to regenerate damaged body parts, Martindale said.

The study supports the idea that definitive muscle cells found in the majority of animals arose from a bi-functional gut tissue that had both absorptive and contractile properties.

The researchers said that if they are successful in working out a way to tease heart cells to regenerate, it's estimated that millions of people could be helped each year, and any progress towards that goal has to be something to get excited about.



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