Optimising cardiac stem cell therapy by finding the best conditions for the cells in the lab and in the heart
We expand cardiac progenitor cells from biopsy samples of the heart and have shown that treatment with cells expanded via the formation of cardiospheres, as cardiosphere-derived cells (CDCs), significantly improved function of the heart after myocardial infarction. Similarly, we have shown that induced pluripotent cells, differentiated towards a cardiac phenotype, prevent the deterioration in cardiac function following myocardial infarction. However, with both cell types, the improvement in function is not large and so we aim is to optimise the efficiency of the cell therapy.
We have shown that the number and viability of CDCs decrease with age, but that culture under hypoxia improves proliferation and maintains the stem cell potential.
We are investigating tissue engineering strategies to deliver cells as a bandage across the infarct scar, by growing cells on collagen scaffolds or on decellurised heart tissue.
We are measuring changes in cell metabolism as the cells differentiate into cardiomyocytes. By characterising the metabolism of human induced pluripotent cells that have been differentiated into beating cardiomyocytes, we can explore the use of these cells to detect metabolic side-effects of potential drug compounds.
We are investigating whether addition of hypoxic microRNAs to the cells can increase cell survival after administration to the heart.