Heart regeneration, or finding our own inner zebrafish

Humans might boast superior cognitive abilities compared to, say, zebrafish, but somewhere along the evolutionary trail we lost something that our distant aquatic cousins kept: the ability to, literally, mend a broken heart. Throw off the timing of our tickers just a little bit through a blocked blood vessel, and the result is potentially fatal. For zebrafish, though, cut off a slice of the chamber and, no problem, replacement tissue forms and the heart is good as new. It's an ability that humans would love to learn. That's what Jerod Denton of Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Voot Yin of Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory in Maine are doing: trying to figure out how the zebrafish perform this regeneration. They're looking at electrically charged calcium ions that surge across the cell membranes, which might play a role in the regeneration. The goal is to develop drugs that could one day bring out our own inner zebrafish. Report

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