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Lecture of Serena Zacchigna

Published: 17. may. 2018

You are kindly invited to the lecture of Serena Zacchigna (International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology - ICGEB) entitled "Novel genes for old hearts" on Friday, 25 May 2018 at 10.45 a.m. at IPS lecture hall, Jamova 39, Ljubljana, room N205 (2nd floor).

Lecture will be held in english.

Novel genes for old hearts
Serena Zacchigna, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), Trieste, Italy

The burden of cardiovascular disease is enormous, largely as a consequence of the aging of the population, the incapacity of the heart to regenerate once damaged and the lack of novel drugs over the last 20 years. Thus, there is an impelling need to develop novel therapeutic strategies aimed at inducing cardiac repair and regeneration. In contrast to other species that regenerate the heart during the adult life, in mammals, damage to the myocardium is mended by a scarring mechanism. However, multiple evidence now indicates that a limited capacity of myocardial renewal also exists in adult individuals, and we are therefore actively searching for factors able to foster this regenerative capacity. Using viral vectors based on the Adeno-Associated Virus (AAV), which transduce the heart at very high efficiency, we are undertaking an exhaustive approach to identify extracellular proteins promoting cardiac repair, selected from an AAV library corresponding to the mouse secretome (1200+ secreted proteins). A second approach entails high throughput screening of microRNAs promoting cardiomyocyte proliferation. Starting from a whole genome human microRNA library, we have identified a few microRNAs endowed with the capacity of promoting expansion of cardiomyocytes in cell culture, inducing massive cardiac hyperplasty in the neonatal heart and improving cardiac function after myocardial infarction. These microRNA function by directly activating the proliferative potential of differentiated cardiomyocytes, thus bypassing the requirement of stem cell expansion and differentiation.

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