A distinctive fish found in many parts of the world is called the zebrafish (Pterois). They have many pectoral fins and vertical stripes. And, yes, they are very poisonous. However, they can repair their own hearts. They have a gene that heals damaged heart tissue and other organs.
Scientists are trying to replicate this process in humans.
The Magic Gene
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/heart-attack-how-can-we-regenerate-damaged-tissue. The Krüppel-like factor 1 (KLF1) gene found in the Pterois species can reprogram cardiomyocytes in uninjured heart muscles to return to an infantile state. The younger cells can multiply and provide new cells to repair or replace injured cells.
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41392-020-00413-2. I expected to find more information on this topic, like what I know about brain plasticity. The brain can modify its connections or rewire itself. The heart, however, has limitations, and most of the references refer to negative changes rather than rewiring the heart to become better.
The heart can repair and make new muscle, but not very much or quickly. It cannot repair muscle damaged by a heart attack. The damaged heart muscles have scarring that precludes any genuine muscle renewal.
https://science.sciencemag.org/content/372/6538/201. Researchers know how the heart renewal process works in zebrafish. Our bodies inhibit the KLF1 gene for the generation of new muscle cells and the repair of older cells. When KLF1 was inhibited in zebrafish, they were unable to repair the heart or other organs.
When scientists figure out how to block the inhibition of this gene, there might be significant progress made to reduce the mortality rate of heart attacks, maybe even reduce the occurrence of cardiovascular events like heart attacks.
https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/JAHA.117.007230?etoc=&. People surviving heart attacks have at least two strikes against them as they age. A study of nearly 23,000 patients averaging 77 years of age showed that almost one in four did not survive one year when they had a heart attack after the age of 65. One in two did not survive five years, and slightly more than six out of ten did not make it past eight years. Heart attacks have serious health consequences for older adults.
This interesting article shows the way existing systems and processes in the animal world around us may lead to discoveries to improve health and wellness in humans. How long will this take? Longer than most of us want to wait. But it is an excellent road to explore because this gene, when activated, might be a lifesaver for many.
Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com