Degen­er­at­ive car­di­ovas­cu­lar diseases

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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.