Researchers from IIT Guwahati have created cardiac proteins to repair a damaged heart.

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This toolbox enables the transformation of healthy skin cells or any somatic cells from an adult human body into cardiomyocytes (heart cells). These heart cells can substitute the original heart cells in function and can be used to repair any heart tissue damage. Additionally, the toolbox allows for the manufacturing of autologous heart cells in a laboratory.

Dr Rajkumar P Thummer, an Assistant Professor from the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering at IIT Guwahati, is heading a research team which has successfully created cell-permeable recombinant proteins that can transform skin cells into heart cells. These recombinant proteins are synthetic proteins produced by genetically modified host cells in a laboratory with the help of recombinant DNA technology.

The IIT Guwahati researchers demonstrated that by exposing skin cells to certain proteins, they could modify the cells’ genetic program to take on the traits of heart cells. This process can be viewed as “rewiring” the skin cells to behave similarly to heart cells.

The team has partnered with Dr Vishwas Kaveeshwar from the Central Research Laboratory at SDM College of Medical Sciences and Hospital in Dharwad, Karnataka to test the effectiveness of the recombinant fusion proteins. Dr Rajkumar P Thummer, Assistant Professor of the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering at IIT Guwahati, commented that reprogramming cells with recombinant proteins is a preferred and safe approach, as it does not alter the genome of the cells, thus providing them with higher therapeutic value. Their six research papers published in various journals have addressed the issues that come with producing these recombinant proteins.

Krishna Kumar Haridhasapavalan, a researcher at IIT Guwahati, mentioned that recombinant proteins can be sent to desired spots without the use of any harsh chemicals. Furthermore, these proteins can be studied to determine their role in multiple cancer types as either suppressors or enhancers of tumor development.

The scientists have recently published their findings on the advancement of cell- and nucleus-permeable versions of six cardiac reprogramming transcription factors in various international scholarly journals, such as Molecular Biotechnology, Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, Bioprocess and Biosystems Engineering, Current Research in Biotechnology, Healthcare Research and Related Technologies Proceedings from NERC 2022, Scientific Reports, and Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology.

Mayank Tewari

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