Updated: Dec 21, 2020
By: Sahil Atluri and Nishk Sutaria
While you may be wondering whether this will be a post about meditation, we are going to introduce you to a group of particles released by our cells, Extracellular Vesicles, or EVs in short. EVs are nanometer-sized messengers, containing thousands of proteins, that travel between cells to deliver critical signals and cargo, and boosts the healing power of cells. They can be derived from stem cell harvests and shown to help heart cells recover from heart attacks. It has been theorized that the reason for this is that EVs develop by quickly delivering instructions and necessary materials to the target cell. However, there are barely any definitive studies to prove the function of EVs in relation to heart attacks, scientists around the world baffled are by the healing power of EVs
The Mysterious Power
Researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences conducted an experiment that has discovered possible mechanisms that showcase the capacity of EVs to revive cells after a heart attack and keep oxygen-deprived cells functioning.
These mechanisms were evident while experimenting with human tissue using a heart-on-a-chip with embedded sensors and Endothelial Extracellular Vesicles (EEVs), which are lined up along the surface of blood vessels. This experiment essentially mimicked human disease, in this case, a heart attack. Heart attacks occur due to a block in blood flow. Unfortunately, the best way to treat heart attacks damages the cardiac muscle around the heart. This is where EEVs come in. EEVs are derived from blood vessels, meaning that these vesicles are used for oxygen deprivation. This caused the researchers to theorize that the cargo provided by the EEVs actually provides ample protection to the cardiac muscle.
The researchers created a control group of heart tissue that was not treated with EEVs and a group that was treated with EEVs. The experiment started off by restricting the oxygen intake for both groups for three hours and then reoxygenating them for 90 minutes. This simulates a heart attack and the results from the experiment support the original claim of EEVs. Apparently, the heart tissues treated with EEVs had half as many dead cells as the untreated heart tissue. These results indicate that EEVs can protect cardiac tissue from reoxygenation injury by supplementing the tissue cells with important cargo, proteins, and signaling molecules that support important rejuvenating processes.
Will the success of this experiment be a pathway to utilizing new technology for healing?