Highly Detailed Map of the Human Heart Could Guide Personalized Heart Treatments

The human heart is a vital organ that medical professionals and scientists have been studying for more than a century. Recently, they have begun to create a molecular map of the organ to better understand how the muscle functions. Ultimately, they are trying to understand what happens with the different heart diseases to try to prevent them or to minimize risks. Researchers included personnel from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Imperial College London, Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, and Wellcome Sanger Institute. Using data from 500,000 individual cells, they began to create a rough atlas of the organ, including cardiac protective immune cells, muscle cell types, and blood vessel networks. Using this information, they have begun predicting how the different cell types communicate. Ultimately, the researchers and investigators want to be able to create individual treatment plans and regenerative medication for people with heart conditions.

Over the course of the average human life, the heart beats more than 2 billion times, and averages about 100,000 beats a day. The organ is incredibly complex and any problems can cause a person to die. Understanding and mapping the different molecular components is a fundamental need to being able to prevent or reduce the effects of defects or heart conditions. The team was able to do this by studying 14 different hearts and several different forms of technology (cell analysis, imaging, and machine learning) to determine what triggered the genes of the different cell types. 

The medical professionals were surprised to see just how specialized the different cells were. In addition to e network of blood cells were researched to see just how specific the cell function in there were. They were equally surprised to find that veins and arteries have cells that adapt to the type of blood vessel they are in and their location in the heart. This will help to better understand problems caused within blood vessels for people who have coronary heart disease. Finally, the researchers looked at how the different cells can be repaired. This required careful analysis of immune cells, which they compared to cellular repairs within the skeletal system and muscles around the skeleton.

If you would like to learn more about how medical professionals are using this new data, read Highly Detailed Map of the Human Heart Could Guide Personalized Heart Treatments.

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