As reported by the BBC, the identification of the genes lrrc10 and caveolin in Mexican tetra fish could lead to advances in treatments for heart attacks in humans. These genes have been shown to be particularly active following heart injury and are thought to be involved in the regeneration of heart tissue. Since humans cannot regenerate heart tissue, tissue damage such as that caused by heart attacks cannot be repaired, leaving patients to rely instead upon a heart transplant. Advances of this kind reinforce the need for continued research across species since discoveries in a remote species can provide useful advances for human therapy.
Despite US patent regulations precluding patent protection for natural products, therapeutic methods based upon discoveries such as this are certainly patentable, both in Europe and the US.
Hundreds of thousands of people in the UK live with heart failure, often as a result of a heart attack. Because it is not possible for humans to regenerate their damaged, scarred heart muscle, people either have to live with the condition or may require a heart transplant.