London: Scientists have discovered a way to transform ordinary tissue into beating heart muscle cells, a finding they say could soon pave the way for new therapeutic approaches for making a damaged heart to repair itself.
Using a zebrafish system, a team from Fudan University in China developed a small and robust molecule that can transform stem cells into beating heart muscle cells.
The scientists, who detailed their work in the Journal of Chemistry and Biology, believe their research could pave the way to new treatment for heart disease.
"Despite advances in medicine, management of myocardial infarction (heart attack) and heart failure remains a major challenge," Dr Tao Zhong, who led the research, was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.
"Developing therapies that can stimulate heart muscle regeneration in areas of infarction would have enormous medical impact," he said.
Zebrafish is an excellent model organism to study heart growth and development as there are established genetic approaches that permit visualisation of fluorescent beating hearts within transparent embryos.