Degenerative cardiovascular diseases
Cardiovascular diseases are the main cause of deaths and hospital admissions. They often develop over a long period of time. Two of the most common and relevant problems are myocardial infarction and chronic heart failure – where heart failure is often the result of a previous heart attack. In both cases, muscle cells of the heart die and are replaced by connective tissue (fibroblasts), a process technically called remodelling. It impairs the heart muscle’s ability to contract and ultimately leads to its stiffening. The consequences: The heart no longer fills sufficiently with blood, the ejection into the bloodstream slackens.
At ISAR Bioscience, we are developing new methods to replace lost heart muscle cells and prevent their displacement by connective tissue cells (fibroblasts). To achieve this, we are pursuing two different, complementary approaches:
On the one hand, in cooperation with the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the Technical University of Munich (Prof. Stefan Engelhardt), we want to reduce and ultimately prevent the pathological remodelling of the heart. To do this, we are specifically targeting the genetic mechanisms that control this process. First, we investigate the cells that lead to the activation of the fibroblasts. In the next step, we investigate the genetic mechanisms that have to be suppressed in order to reduce this activation. Ultimately, we are pursuing the goal of preserving the healthy structure and function of the heart in patients.
Secondly, in cooperation with the University Hospital rechts der Isar of the Technical University of Munich (Prof. Karl-Ludwig Laugwitz and Prof. Alessandra Moretti), we are looking for methods to replace dying cells with heart muscle progenitor cells derived from stem cells. We are investigating the processes that make it possible to generate heart cells from stem cells. We also want to know how such cells can be transferred to the heart muscle and ultimately become integrated there. Our goal is to restore a healthy heart muscle. This is urgently needed after the death of heart muscle cells, especially as a result of a heart attack.