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Monday, December 31, 2012

Reprogramming heart scar tissue, and cell signalling

I recently read an article on some of the biggest scientific breakthroughs of 2012.

One of these was that experimenters have been able to reprogram heart scar tissue -- tissue that results from a heart attack -- to perform ordinary heart functions. See reports here and here. The work was done in mice, but most likely there will be ways to do this in humans, too.

Another breakthrough was the emerging importance of proteins called G protein-coupled receptors, which proteins receive signals outside a cell membrane, and cause some sort of action inside that membrane. These receptor proteins are involved in the senses of vision and smell, in regulating heart rate and digestion, and in regulating the immune system, as well as having other functions. The DNA which codes for these proteins makes up about 4% of the human genome.

See the previous Sunspots column for links to another list of the most important scientific discoveries of 2012, and to the most interesting microscopic views of living things published in 2012.

Thanks for reading!

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