Inspired by COVID-19 messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine technology, researchers have developed a similar method to deliver genetic material to the body to repair damaged heart muscle after a heart attack.
COVID-19 mRNA vaccines use lipid nanoparticles, which are tiny droplets of fat, to deliver mRNA to cells in the body. This mRNA instructs cells to make a dummy spike protein on their surface to mimic the virus protein that causes COVID-19. The body then mounts an immune response by creating antibodies that can be used if the individual is infected with the virus.
However, instead of aiming for an immune response, researchers at the University Medical Center of Utrecht in the Netherlands sought to instruct cells in the heart to repair themselves after a heart attack.
This preliminary study was conducted to determine if mRNA could be successfully delivered to heart muscle in lipid nanoparticles.
In the study, researchers injected different formulations into the left ventricular wall of mouse hearts during open-chest surgery under general anesthesia. Twenty-four hours after administration, the mice were euthanized and the location of mRNA translation was examined.
Researchers found that mRNA successfully reached heart cells 24 hours after injection. However, despite injection into the heart, the highest levels of mRNA translation were found in liver and spleen cells.
“High expression was expected in the liver because it metabolizes lipid nanoparticles. Nevertheless, it was encouraging to see that there was translation of mRNA in heart tissue, which means that lipid nanoparticles could function as delivery systems for mRNA therapy,” said Dr. Clara Labonia. of the University.
“The next step in this research is to test more formulations and choose the one that most effectively targets heart tissue. We will then assess whether administering mRNA to mice with ischemic (heart attack-like) heart has a therapeutic effect,” they said. added.
The findings were presented to Frontiers of Cardiovascular Biomedicine 2022a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology.
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