Scientists have regenerated heart cells in mice by causing them revert back to an earlier developmental stage.
A protein called ERBB2, which sends signals to the inside of of a cell from the outside and is highly studied in cancer research, works with another receptor NRG1 to help send the signal. Mouse heart cells were treated with NRG1 at the newborn stage regenerated prolifically but at day 7 did not. The difference was noted to be the lack of ERBB2 on the cell membrane at day 7. The team then knocked out the ERBB2 in mice and found that heart cells do not divide without ERBB2 even with the NRG1 present. When they activated the ERBB2 with the NRG1 the result was almost complete regeneration.
So how did it work? Well, the heart cells de-differentiated to an early growth stage and were able to divide and create new healthy cells. The teams hope is that this study can be applied to patients suffering heart attacks to repair the devastating damage. Looking backwards to move forward!