Will mRNA soon repair the heart?

THE ESSENTIAL

  • mRNA technology uses lipid nanoparticles to trigger the body’s cells to respond
  • An experiment using this technique to repair heart cells damaged by an infarction has shown promising results.

The general public discovered the technique of messenger RNA through the new vaccines developed after the Covid-19 pandemic. Today, this technique for the vaccine consists of using lipid nanoparticles – like tiny fat droplets – to deliver a messenger RNA into the cells to give them the signal to make the protein that blocks the famous spike protein, that the coronavirus infects them with is considered a promising innovation in the treatment of heart disease.

A study presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress shows how mRNA can be used, rather than aimed at eliciting an immune response, to command heart cells to repair themselves after a heart attack.

Lipid nanoparticles injected directly into the heart muscle

To see if mRNA could be transported into the heart muscle, the researchers injected lipid nanoparticles with different formulations into the left ventricular wall of mouse hearts. A procedure performed with an open chest. After 24 hours, the animals were euthanized and by examining their heart tissue, the scientists determined that the messenger RNA had indeed reached the heart cells.

It was encouraging to see that mRNA was translated in heart tissue, implying that lipid nanoparticles can act as delivery systems for mRNA therapies‘ said Dr. Clara Labonia from University Hospital Utrecht, author of this study.

Ensure the therapeutic effect on a heart attacked heart

The only “surprise” the scientists encountered was that despite injecting the lipid nanoparticles directly into the heart muscle, the highest mRNA translation was found in the liver and kidney cells of the spleen of the animals used for this experiment. “However, this high level of expression was to be expected primarily in the liver, since this organ metabolizes fat droplets.” emphasizes Dr. Labonia.

However, one important step remains to be validated: targeting cardiac muscle cells in a more targeted manner and, above all, ensuring that the mRNA actually exerts a therapeutic effect on a diseased heart through the lipid-nanoparticle method when it is administered in this way, leading to a heart attack.

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