Even as the rate of deaths caused by heart diseases fell by 20 percent from 1983 to 2011, cardiovascular ailments are still the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC data showed that one of every four deaths in the country was linked to heart disease, and that someone in the country suffers a heart attack every 42 seconds.
However, if a new “fishy” development goes the way researchers hope it will, we could have the means to fight many heart diseases.
Researchers from University of Pittsburgh extracted extracellular matrices (ECM refers to a collection of molecules outside cells that the cells produce; they provide structural and biochemical support to the surrounding cells) from zebrafish hearts and applied them to adult mice suffering from heart attacks. Researchers found that the mice’s heart tissues regenerated and the heart returned to normal functionality.
“The heart beats as if nothing has happened to it. And our approach is really simple,” Yadong Wang, leader of the study, said in a statement, which defined ECM as “the architectural foundations of tissues and organs; not only do they provide a “scaffolding” on which cells can grow and migrate, they assist in the signaling necessary for the organ to develop, grow, or regenerate.”
Significantly, the zebrafish ECM were also found to offer stress-protection to specialized cells that make up the heart muscle in humans, called cardiac myocytes. This raises hope the method could be developed to treat heart diseases in humans… see more