Developing a genetic test to improve the success of stem cell treatment for heart disease - Heart Research UK

Developing a genetic test to improve the success of stem cell treatment for heart disease

Dr Enca Martin-Rendon, University of Oxford, £148,006 – Developing a genetic test to improve the success of stem cell treatment for heart disease

 

Summary

Coronary heart disease causes narrowing or blockage of the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle which may damage the heart and lead to heart failure. Stem cell treatment has the potential to treat damaged heart tissue by encouraging the growth of new blood vessels and improving the blood supply to the heart muscle. However, clinical trials have shown mixed results with only some patients benefiting from the treatment.

This project investigated the genetic make-up of patients’ cardiac stem cells, with the aim of developing a test to predict and improve the success of stem cell treatment. Dr Martin-Rendon and the team found that stem cells isolated from cardiac tissue of patients undergoing heart bypass surgery could be classified into two types:

(1) those that grew well in the lab and were good at supporting new blood vessel growth
(2) those that did not grow well in the lab and aged quickly.

Interestingly, if patients had other conditions, such as high blood pressure, the cells were less able to support new blood vessel formation, whilst cells from patients with severe heart failure were better at supporting new blood vessel formation.

The team identified genetic differences between these two groups which in the future may help with predicting the best cells to use and selecting patients who are more likely to respond well. Such a personalised approach would improve the success of stem cell treatment giving better outcomes for patients with coronary heart disease.