New Mexico scientists' new development could lead to the growth of a human heart | KOB 4

New Mexico scientists' new development could lead to the growth of a human heart

KOB Web Staff
Updated: February 10, 2020 07:19 PM
Created: February 10, 2020 07:16 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Scientists at Los Alamos National Labs developed the first full 3D structure of a heart RNA molecule.

Karissa Sanbonmatsu is a structural biologist with LANL.


"Over 90 percent of the human genome codes for these molecules so they're extremely important,"Sanbonmatsu said.

Sanbonmatsu said RNA is like a cousin to DNA, and is often called the "dark matter of the genome," because scientists do not really know what they do or even look like. 

This new structure can help determine how the molecules work and what they are made of.

"You can learn a lot about what kinds of drugs bind that molecule and often you can solve the entire mechanism just by getting a detailed 3D image," she said.

An RNA molecules are kind of like light switches for genes. 

"These RNA's are critical for these on-off decisions, and when they malfunction, very bad things can happen this can lead to birth defects, to autism, to some cases even cancer," Sanbonmatsu said.

The molecule Los Alamos scientists are looking at is called "Braveheart," because it converts stem cells into heart cells. The more scientists learn about this molecule, the more they can make new developments in regenerative medicine. 

"This would be really useful for people with heart conditions due to cardiovascular disease or aging," Sanbonmatsu said.

The ultimate goal is to be able to grow a heart.

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