Singapore scientists have discovered a chemical compound that stops heart cells from healing themselves, and hope to be able to block this function.
Researchers from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research's Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) and the National University Health System (NUHS) have found a ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecule in mice called Singheart that stops heart cells regenerating and self-healing.
The failure of heart cells to heal by themselves causes heart attacks and heart failure to be severe and incurable.
In Singapore, cardiovascular disease accounts for 19.8 per cent of all deaths, and about 16 people a day die of heart disease.
Patients with heart failure will have more Singheart in their heart cells than patients without heart failure, as the RNA blocks other cells from regenerating, say the researchers.
The study was led by Associate Professor Roger Foo, who is principal investigator at both GIS and NUHS' Cardiovascular Research Institute and senior consultant at the National University Heart Centre Singapore.
It was published on Aug 9 in Nature Communications journal, after having been in development for three years.
The next steps of this research are to conduct similar experiments with human heart cells and to find a way to target this molecule to block its function.