Select Page Staff

Date: Sun. Mar. 4 2012 10:19 PM ET


Dr. Lorrie Kirshenbaum (Canada Research Chair in Cardiology, Principal Investigator in Cardiac Gene Biology, Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, and professor, Departments of Physiology and Pharmacology & Therapeutics, University of Manitoba Faculty of Medicine) has for years studied damaged heart tissue, searching for clues about why these muscles never heal once they’ve been deprived of oxygen after a heart attack.

Now he’s discovered a gene that might help restore the damaged tissue.

Unlike other organs – such as the skin – heart tissue doesn’t heal itself when damaged. This is caused by a gene that actually tells the heart cells not to grow.

Dr. Kirshenbaum and his team have been chasing this gene for more than a decade.

“For us, it was initially disbelief that we’ve found it,” Dr. Kirshenbaum told CTV News.

“We identified a particular gene that gets switched on in heart cells when people are having a heart attack. Why that becomes so significant is because it identifies a potential target, a therapeutic target that we can turn on or turn off ultimately to prevent heart cells from dying.”

The breakthrough means scientists can begin work on developing a drug to repair heart muscles by regenerating new heart tissue. Another approach would be to prevent the existing heart cells from further deteriorating.

To read the complete article and see the CTV News video segment, click here.