MicroRNA's Turn on Gene Expression and Heal Scarred Hearts
by Lucy Ji, age 16
MicroRNAs are molecules present in our to bodies that direct cell development. They work with DNA to express genes to change the cell's characteristics. Using this attribute, scientists hope to turn injured, scarred tissue into healthy muscle cells.
Victor Dzau, a cardiovascular researcher at Duke University, took four mice with scarred heart tissue and injected each with microRNAs that help with cardiac development. After a few weeks, the damaged heart tissue turned into healthy muscle tissue. Dzau hopes to perfect this process within the next ten years to make it suitable to use in human bodies.
“You should be able to convert any cell to the cell type you like,” says Dzau. He hopes other specialists will take his research and apply it to treating other areas of the human body, such as rebuilding nerve endings in stroke patients.
If scientists master this technique, it could open doors to countless medical innovations. Heart attacks, heart failures, strokes and other deadly conditions could become more easily treatable.