Skip to main content

Repairing the Heart Using Stem Cells

Karen Christman
Karen Christman

Bioengineers, scientists and medical experts at UC San Diego are collaborating on stem cell research they hope will lead to a treatment for heart failure. Jacobs School bioengineering professors Karen Christman and Andrew McCulloch have teamed with Kirk Peterson, Kirk Knowlton, Ju Chen, and Sylvia Evans from the UC San Diego School of Medicine on ways to differentiate human stem cells into cardiac muscle cells. The researchers are specifically looking at delivery strategies to make sure cells remain differentiated during and after implementation. The group is researching the bottlenecks associated with using stem cells for heart surgery and transplants by making sure enough cardiomyocytes can survive in vivo. They are also developing noninvasive ways to track the stem cells in the heart to ensure they are working and safe once they are implanted.

The ultimate goal of this research is to provide patients an alternative to having a heart transplant. Currently drugs exist for heart failure, but often times patients will need a heart transplant, which could take years due to long waiting lists.

"Regenerative medicine offers many possibilities for new treatments for heart failure," Christman says. "What's exciting is what we are developing in the lab may be in the clinic someday."

Print Article