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Zebrafish deliver heart regeneration breakthrough

Friday December 23rd, 2011

Scientists have made a breakthrough in the search to find ways of repairing damaged hearts, it was announced yesterday.

A study in China of zebrafish has identified three molecules that seem to play a key role in the regeneration of the organ.

Scientists have been paying close attention to the fish because of their remarkable ability to regenerate their hearts.

Researchers at Fudan University, Shanghai, studied nearly 4,000 compounds from the animal before identifying the three molecules, dubbed cardionogens. They say they can trigger growth of an embryonic heart.

The findings were reported in the journal Chemistry & Biology.

Researcher Dr Tao Zhong said: "Evaluating the potential of cardionogen on human adult and embryonic stem cells is the next logical step.

"This may ultimately aid in design of therapeutic approaches to enhance repopulation of damaged heart muscle and restore function in diseased hearts."

The British Heart Foundation, which is backing similar research, said it was an "exciting glimpse" of the future of heart treatment.

Medical director Professor Peter Weissberg said: "This research may have involved zebrafish but it provides real promise that a similar approach may ultimately lead to the development of a drug that can help people who have debilitating heart failure.”

Discovering Small Molecules that Promote Cardiomyocyte Generation by Modulating Wnt Signaling. Terri T. Ni et al. Chemistry and Biology December 2011 doi:10.1016/j.chembiol.2011.09.015,

Tags: Asia | Heart Health | UK News

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