This is how a heart becomes a heart
A “synchronised dance” of thousands of genes generates a healthy heart, but one faux pas may result in congenital heart defects.
Congenital heart defects (CHD) are one of the most common birth abnormalities in the world. In Australia six babies are born with a heart disease every day and more than 32,000 children under the age of 18 live with a CHD, but a team of researchers at the Gladstone Institutes have found the genetic switches that translate as a functional heart.
Using next-generation DNA sequencing and stem cell technology, the researchers were able to decipher the genomic blueprint (the instruction manual) of a heart. The finding will help understand how certain CHDs such as holes in the heart (septal defects) are formed. “Congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defects,” said Gladstone Senior Investigator Benoit Bruneau to UCFS news. “But how these defects develop at the genetic level has been difficult to pinpoint because research has focused on a small set of genes. Here, we approach heart formation with a wide-angle lens by looking at the entirety of the genetic material that gives heart cells their unique identity.”