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!
Immune Defense Without Collateral Damage
23.01.2017 | Universität Basel
The interactome of infected neural cells reveals new therapeutic targets for Zika
23.01.2017 | D'Or Institute for Research and Education
For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.
According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine
23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.01.2017 | Process Engineering