A team of scientists at King’s College London have identified mRNA’s – key genetic code – which produce proteins that can generate healthy heart cells.
The same technology used in the Pfizer and Moderna jabs delivers the mRNA to the heart muscle directly following a heart attack, where up to one billion heart cells die when blood supply to the central organ is stopped.
About 100,000 people are admitted to UK hospitals each year after a heart attack, while more than 900,000 people in the UK live with heart failure.
The new RNA (ribonucleic acid) therapy has the potential to stop heart failure in millions of heart attack victims.
Speaking to The Times, lead researcher Professor Mauro Giacca: “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.”
The team, based at the British Heart Foundation Centre for Research Excellence at King’s College London, is also developing a treatment to stop cells dying during cardiac arrest.