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Genes & Cells

Healing broken hearts, tracing Romani migration using genes, and how insulin irregularities may be linked to obesity

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5:45pm, December 10, 2012

MicroRNA treatment mends broken hearts
When it comes to the heart, some old cells can become new again, especially with some prodding. Scientists have known that the heart can regenerate some of its cells, but there has been debate about the exact source of the new cells — whether it’s other heart muscle cells, stem cells or even cells from the heart’s outer lining. Researchers at Harvard Medical School and colleagues analyzed the atomic composition of molecules in newly generated mouse heart muscle cells and determined that the newborn cells come from neighboring old heart muscle cells. In a separate study, a research team reports on a way to spur new heart cell growth. Two microRNAs, small genetic molecules that help control protein production, can stimulate adult heart cells to replicate, Mauro Giacca of the International Center for Genetic Engineering in Trieste, Italy, and colleagues report. Mice given the microRNAs after a heart attack

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