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Scientists have developed a new strategy that uses exosomes — tiny, RNA-loaded packets that cells spit out — to regenerate cardiac cells after damage from a heart attack.

The heart muscles are made of specialized cells that work continuously to pump blood to our entire body. When one of the heart’s blood vessels gets blocked, it can cause a heart attack, which often leads to tissue damage and scars. Scientists have previously explored whether cell transplants could speed recovery after heart attacks, but the cells often failed to graft, and experts worried about the health risks of such a procedure.


The new “cell-less” approach, described in a paper published Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine, aims to avoid some of those risks with the help of exosomes, which have gained significant interest as a potential mode of drug delivery. They’re thought to play an important role in communication between cells and the transportation of proteins and genetic material.

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