Using stem cells after a heart attack - Johannes Bargehr

We know the many different cells that make up the heart – two important ones are muscle cells that contract and cells that make our blood vessels to provide the heart with nutrients and oxygen and carry waste products away.

Patching up broken hearts

What if we could take those cells and build a ‘patch’ of new tissue? A patch that could be transplanted onto a damaged heart and help it beat strongly again. That may sound like science fiction but researchers at the University of Cambridge, supported by your donations, are working towards that goal.

Supervised by Dr Sanjay Sinha, a BHF Senior Research Fellow and Consultant Cardiologist, Dr Johannes Bargehr is being funded to work on a PhD project in regenerative medicine. In the lab using stem cells, which can become any type of cell in the body, Johannes is growing a type of cell for making the walls of blood vessels.

Hopes for a patient treatment

Johannes is testing whether certain forms of these blood vessel cells work better than others. Knowing this will help the team to design a patch, made up of heart muscle, with the best blood supply. At the moment they’re doing studies in cells in a dish and the next stage is to assess how effective their patch is in rats. This is essential before this technique can be trialled on heart patients.

Johannes commented “With this Mending Broken Hearts Appeal we’re able to fully explore the potential of blood vessel cells that we’ve made in the lab to contribute to a working heart patch. 

“This support will not only enable us to answer key questions about how to regenerate the heart but also pave the way for studies in patients, where this knowledge can be used to help people with heart failure."

We need your support

Funding research like Johannes' can only happen with your support. Please help and donate to our Mending Broken Hearts Appeal. 

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