How Fish Grow New Hearts

A regenerating zebrafish heart 14 days after injury. Cardiac muscle is labeled in green, DNA is blue and a marker of cell division is shown in red. Credit: Dr. Juan Carlos Ispizua Belmonte, Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

By Emily Singer in Technology Review

The small, unassuming zebrafish, which has become a stable in biology labs across the globe, can perform an impressive feat of regeneration–it can withstand losing 20 percent of a ventricle, a chamber of the heart, growing it back within a month. Two new studies published yesterday in Nature show the animals regrow their hearts by triggering cell division of adult heart muscle cells rather than via stem cells. If researchers can elucidate the chemical signaling involved in the process, they may be able to find ways to stimulate heart repair or regeneration in humans. While recent research suggests that human hearts do have a limited capacity to generate new cells, heart muscle tends to form scars after heart attack rather than healthy new tissue.

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[Read the full article at http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/editors/24974/%5D

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