The recent development and application of the techniques of recombinant DNA and molecular biology ignited an explosion in biomedical research, which has been embraced by medicine. However, cardiology as a subspecialty has been slower in adopting these techniques, in part because the heart is a nonproliferating organ and in part because it was not easily accessible until recently. The techniques of recombinant DNA were not possible until the 1970s. In that decade four major discoveries occurred that launched molecular biology into the 21st century. These seminal contributions were 1) the discovery and application of specific restriction endonucleases, 2) the discovery of reverse transcriptase, 3) the development of the cloning technique, and 4) the ability to rapidly sequence nucleic acids. The techniques of recombinant DNA offer several unique advantages over existing scientific disciplines, such as the abilities: 1) to perform in vivo structure-function analysis, 2) to genetically engineer drugs, 3) to perform diagnostic in situ hybridization, 4) to isolate genes responsible for hereditary disorders, and 5) to understand the genetic regulation of cardiac growth. These techniques are discussed in their application to cardiac disorders, including the development of new recombinant molecules for the treatment of coronary thrombosis and the potential to modulate the cardiac growth response to various forms of injury such as myocardial infarction and hypertension.
cardiac growth; genetic engineering; molecular genetics; structure function analysis
- Copyright © 1991 the American Physiological Society