Producing Heart Muscle Cells to Repair Damaged Hearts
Chronic heart failure is the most common reason for hospital admissions and one of the most frequent causes of death in the western world. Scientists around the world are therefore working on strategies to replace destroyed heart tissue. One promising approach uses so-called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells). These iPS cells can be produced in the laboratory from "reprogrammed" body cells of adults and can then give rise to any cell type of the human body—including heart muscle cells.
In addition to producing such cardiomyocytes from iPS cells in the clinically required quantity and quality, another major challenge is to get the cells into the heart in a way that they attach well and improve cardiac muscle function in harmony with the organ as a whole.
An international research team led by Dr. Robert Zweigerdt, cell biologist at the Leibniz Research Laboratories for Biotechnology and Artificial Organs (LEBAO) at the Hannover Medical School (MHH) and LEBAO director Professor Dr. Ulrich Martin, now want to develop a new therapy in which damaged tissue areas can be repaired with the help of small cell clusters of biotechnologically produced heart muscle cells. Their work is part of the HEAL project, which involves 10 partners from all over Europe and Israel.