At the MDI Biological Laboratory, scientists study lower organisms that have retained the miraculous ability to regenerate organs and tissues. Dr. Voot Yin talks about how research on the common aquarium fish, the zebrafish, may lead to a drug to regenerate healthy heart tissue after a heart attack.
Organ regeneration has fascinated scientists and the public for well over 300 years, yet we know very little about the genetics that stimulate the process. Dr. Yin is studying regeneration in zebrafish, which retain the miraculous ability to regenerate almost any body part. We share the same genetic program for regeneration, but our genetic program has been deactivated for unknown reasons. Dr. Yin is seeking to understand how zebrafish regenerate damaged tissue so that therapies can be developed to reawaken our dormant genetic codes for regeneration.
When we have a heart attack, a scar is formed at the site. While the scar serves as a temporary Band-aid, it interferes with function over the long term, leading to disability and ultimately to heart failure. Dr. Yin and other scientists have identified a drug candidate, MSI-1436, that stimulates the regeneration of heart muscle in zebrafish and mice. The MDI Biological Laboratory is seeking to move this drug into clinical trials in humans.
Heart disease is the world’s leading cause of disability and death. If MSI-1436 proves to be effective in humans, it would be a huge step forward in treating heart disease.