Growing new heart muscle to help heart attack patients

The role of human embryonic stem cell-derived epicardium and smooth muscle cells in myocardial graft development

Sanjay Sinha (lead researcher)

Cambridge, University of

Start date: 01 April 2014 (Duration 3 years)

Regenerative medicine is an area of research that has the potential to revolutionise the care of patients with heart and circulatory disease, especially after life-threatening events such as a heart attack. After a heart attack, any damage to the heart muscle is irreversible and the heart cannot repair itself to replace the damaged tissue. This can lead to a condition called heart failure where the heart is less able to pump blood around the body.

Leading research groups are interested in the promise held by stem cells, which are able to develop into any cell type in the body, including heart cells. Dr Sanjay Sinha’s group at the University of Cambridge has been awarded a grant to look at growing embryonic stem cells in the laboratory to direct them into becoming smooth muscle cells, which form the wall of blood vessels.

They plan to grow heart tissue ‘patches’ containing these smooth muscle cells and test how the patches perform in culture dishes and rats. The team want to know whether the patches work better when containing smooth muscle cells. Identifying the features of the best grafts is important for continuing this avenue of research so that it may benefit patients in the future.

Project details

Grant amount £126,863
Grant type Fellowship
Application type PhD Studentship
Start Date 01 April 2014
Duration 3 years
Reference FS/13/65/30441
Status Complete

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