Following a heart attack, cells die, causing lasting damage to the heart.
Keith Jones, PhD, a researcher in the department of pharmacology and cell biophysics, and colleagues are trying to reduce post-heart attack damage by studying the way cells die in the heart—a process controlled by transcription factors.
Transcription factors are proteins that bind to specific parts of DNA and are part of a system that controls the transfer of genetic information from DNA to RNA and then to protein. Transfer of genetic information also plays a role in controlling the cycle of cells—from cell growth to cell death.
"We call it 'gene regulatory therapy,'" says Jones.
So far, studies have identified the role for an important group of interacting transcription factors and the genes they regulate to determine whether cells in the heart survive or die after blood flow restriction occurs.
Often, scientists use virus-like mechanisms to transfer DNA and other nucleic acids inside the body.
The "virus" takes over other healthy cells by injecting them with its DNA. The cells, then transformed, begin reproducing the virus' DNA. Eventually they swell and burst, sending multiple replicas of the virus out to conquer other cells and repeat the process.
Now, UC researchers are further investigating new, non-viral delivery mechanisms for this transfer of DNA.
"We can use non-viral delivery vehicles to transfer nucleic acids, including transcription factor decoys, to repress activation of specific transcription factors in the heart," Jones says, adding that the researchers have made this successfully work within live animal models. "This means we can block the activity of most transcription factors in the heart without having to make genetically engineered mice."
Jones will be presenting these results at the International Society for Heart Research in Cincinnati, June 17-20.
He says this delivery mechanism involves flooding the cells with "decoys" which trick the transcription factors into binding to the decoys rather than to target genes, preventing them from activating those genes.
"We can use this technology to identify the target genes and then investigate the action of these genes in the biological process," Jones says.
He says that this delivery has limitations and advantages.
"It can be used to block a factor at any point in time and is reversible," he says. "However, right now, a specific delivery route must be used to target the tissue or cell."
Jones and other researchers are hoping that this new technology will allow them to directly address the effects of gene regulation in disease, as opposed to using classical drugs that treat symptoms or have significant adverse outcomes.
"So far, this seems to cause no adverse effects in animals," he says. "We are hopeful and are working toward pre-clinical studies."
Katie Pence | EurekAlert!
Fine organic particles in the atmosphere are more often solid glass beads than liquid oil droplets
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie
Study overturns seminal research about the developing nervous system
21.04.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...
Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.
A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy