Cardiovascular Program

The heart was long assumed to have little ability to regenerate on its own. In just the past few years, many research groups, including several in HSCI, have discovered cells in the heart that can restore heart function. Our challenge is to develop practical ways to harness this ability to generate new heart cells and turn it into an effective therapy.

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Key Research Questions

The main goal of the HSCI Cardiovascular Program is to generate new heart cells to replace damaged heart tissue. The researchers will make progress on this goal by answering the following questions:

  • What is the cardiogenic transcriptional program and what are its applications?
  • How can cardiomyocytes and cardiac progenitors be reprogrammed for treatment of heart disease?
  • What are the molecular differences between zebrafish and mouse models and are there chemicals that can help mammalian hearts heal like zebrafish hearts?

Key Scientific Results

Scientific findings from the HSCI Cardiovascular Program include:

  • The discovery of GDF-11, a blood-born factor in young mice that can reverse some features of heart aging.
  • The purification of a master heart stem cell. These master stem cells have been applied to an engineered thin film cardiac strip for both transplantation and testing purposes.
  • The initial creation of disease-specific cell lines with iPS cells from patients with different cardiac conditions to study the diseases and search for new treatments.
  • The definition of a how the heart makes new heart cells during life.
  • The development of a new method for studying birth of cells in humans.