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Hippo, Warts and Other Thugs of the Genetic Realm
NY Times ^ | April 25, 2011 | NICHOLAS WADE

Posted on 04/30/2011 4:51:23 PM PDT by neverdem

If you should ever have a heart attack, Hippo, Warts, Merlin, Yorkie, Scalloped, Shaggy, Frizzled, Dishevelled and Mob-as-tumor-suppressor may have a lot to do with why you don’t get better in a hurry.

These are not characters from a Damon Runyon story but a crew of genes that work together to switch other genes on and off. A team of biologists led by James F. Martin and Todd Heallen of the Texas A&M System Health Science Center has now found that these genes block the heart from growing new heart muscle cells, at least in mice.

Knock out Hippo, for example, and the mouse’s heart grows two and a half times bigger than usual, they report in Science.

This and other advances, including the discovery this year that infant mice can regenerate their hearts for the first seven days after birth, is evoking considerable interest among researchers trying to develop new treatments for heart attacks.

The findings “will mark a renaissance of interest in the genetics of cardiac muscle growth control because of the potential therapeutic applications,” said Michael D. Schneider, a heart biology expert at Imperial College in London.

The reason that heart attacks are so serious is that when a large number of heart muscle cells die, they are not replaced. Yet the heart does slowly generate new muscle cells during a person’s lifetime, showing that a growth program is in place. It is firmly repressed, however, presumably to avert the danger of cancer.

Surgeons have tried injecting stem cells of all kinds into stricken hearts, but despite many clinical trials, there is little evidence that the cells do much good. This setback has led to renewed interest in trying to unlock the heart cells’ inherent growth program.

Dr. Martin started with the Hippo gene because it is...

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Testing
KEYWORDS: genetics; health; medicine

1 posted on 04/30/2011 4:51:29 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem

Cheney for President!!


2 posted on 04/30/2011 5:18:18 PM PDT by 668 - Neighbor of the Beast (Bad posters drive out good; don't post and drive!)
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