In step for­ward for re­ju­ve­na­tion field, re­searchers turn back the clock on mice hearts

When Thomas Braun was start­ing out as a young pro­fes­sor at Ger­many’s Uni­ver­si­ty of Würzburg in 1997, he de­cid­ed to try his hand at a new field: heart re­gen­er­a­tion, a sci-fi-es­que premise that could of­fer a way to treat pa­tients re­cov­er­ing from a heart at­tack. He thought it would take a few years be­fore they got re­sults.

“We were,” he ac­knowl­edges now, “rather naïve.”

But on Thurs­day, af­ter two and a half decades of fit­ful starts and aban­doned leads, Braun and a team of re­searchers at the Max Planck In­sti­tute showed that they could re­pro­gram heart cells in mice and get the an­i­mals to re­gen­er­ate car­diac tis­sue af­ter a heart at­tack. The break­through, pub­lished in Sci­enceadds new ev­i­dence that it will even­tu­al­ly be pos­si­ble to help pa­tients re­cov­er mus­cle lost in heart at­tacks and gives an­oth­er boon to an­ti-ag­ing re­searchers who want to one day ap­ply these re­ju­ve­na­tion tech­niques across much of the body.

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