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 developed approaches to generate new human heart cells. Our challenge is to develop practical ways to harness this ability to create new human 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 human heart cells to replace damaged heart tissue. The researchers will make progress on this goal by answering the following questions:

  • How can we generate mature heart cells from stem cells for treatment of patients?
  • Why can some organisms regenerate their hearts, but others—like human—cannot regenerate heart tissue?
  • What is the best approach to deliver new heart cells to patients with heart failure?

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.