One Day We Could Actually Regenerate Human Hearts

According to the scientists at the University of Florida, one day they could develop a process to regenerate tissue in the human heart, by borrowing a technique from an unlikely source, a muscle-less and heartless starlet sea anemone.

One Day We Could Actually Regenerate Human Hearts
Image Credit: The University of Florida

The human hearts pump blood into the arteries that carry oxygen and nutrients to all the tissues of the body. It is the hardest working muscle located in the center of the chest. But the fact is, the human heart can not regenerate its tissue.

According to the scientists at the University of Florida, one day they could develop a process to regenerate tissue in the human heart, by borrowing a technique from an unlikely source, a muscle-less and heartless starlet sea anemone.

A species of small sea anemone called ‘Nematostella vectensis‘ regenerate as several different organisms. And scientists think that this biological superpower could stimulate regenerative healing in human hearts.

One Day We Could Actually Regenerate Human Hearts
Study scientists examined the genes of the starlet sea anemone (Nematostella vectensis) shown here. Sea anemones are related to corals and jellyfish and are composed of an outer skin armed with stinging cells (cnidocytes) and a tube-shaped gut, with nothing in the middle. Photo by Eric Röttinger

Scientists came across the starlet sea anemone while looking for the muscle cells found in the human heart. That’s the reason, the sea creature is known to help in the formation of heart cells.

Lead researcher Mark Martindale said, “Our study shows that if we learn more about the logic of how genes that give rise to heart cells talk to each other, muscle regeneration in humans might be possible.”

Scientists observed the heart genes in the sea anemone. They found a difference in the way they interact compared with genes in other animals. They even did not found any lockdown loop. Thus, there were no instructions to the genes to stay switched on for the lifetime of the animal. Those instructions stop cells becoming other types of cell.

Through this lockdown loop, the sea anemone cells are free to turn into other types of cells and regenerate body parts if needed.

Martindale said, “The idea is these genes have been around a long time and preceded the twitchy muscles that cover our skeleton.”

“So, if we can tweak our own muscle cells to follow the lead of the starlet sea anemone cells, regenerative healing in the heart and other body parts could be possible.”