The enzyme telomerase repairs cell damage produced by ageing, and has been used successfully in therapies to lengthen the life of mice. Now it has been observed that it could also be used to cure illnesses related to the ageing process. Researchers at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) have for the first time treated myocardial infarction with telomerase by designing a very innovative strategy: a gene therapy that reactivates the telomerase gene only in the heart of adult mice, thus increasing survival rates in those animals by 17 % following a heart attack.
This is a high magnification image of the heart. Green cells represent cardiomyocytes targeted by the gene therapy. Telomerase reactivation confers cardioprotection after acute myocardial infarction.
The research has been funded by the Botín Foundation, Roche, the European Commission (ERC), and the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.
Reference article: Telomerase expression confers cardioprotection in the adult mouse heart after acute myocardial infarction. Christian Bär, Bruno Bernardes de Jesus, Rosa Serrano, Agueda Tejera, Eduard Ayuso, Veronica Jimenez, Ivan Formentini, Maria Bobadilla, Jacques Mizrahi, Alba de Martino, Gonzalo Gomez, David Pisano, Francisca Mulero, Kai C. Wollert, Fatima Bosch, Maria A. Blasco. Nature Communications (2014). doi: 10.1038/ncomms6863