Researchers have completed the first comprehensive survey of the tiny cellular molecules found in the heart and which are essential for its healthy function. The breakthrough could lead to the development of targeted therapeutic treatments for heart disease.
Professor Thomas Preiss and Dr Jennifer Clancy and their team commenced the research at Sydney’s Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in 2008 and completed it at The John Curtin School of Medical Research at ANU. They used the latest sequencing technology to capture and identify thousands of microRNAs found in the cells of the heart.
MicroRNAs are short ribonucleic acid molecules, which in turn are one of three building blocks of all life. Even though they are tiny molecules, microRNAs are abundant in cells and act like an army of ants – individually making small changes to the expression of many genes, but in combination resulting in large changes to the cell. When these molecules are deregulated, or ‘not co-ordinating their efforts’, they can cause disease.