KOSAIR PEDIATRIC HEART RESEARCH
The goal of the Kosair Charities Pediatric Heart Research Program is to develop and apply novel technologies that can be used to treat children with congenital heart disease. Throughout the world over 1 million children are born with congenital heart disease each year. The first successful medical and surgical treatments for congenital heart disease occurred over 60 years ago, and today over 100,000 children undergo heart catheterization and intervention and over 30,000 children receive heart surgery each year in the United States. Unfortunately many of the implanted materials used to repair the hearts and vessels in children do not grow as they grow and eventually require replacement. Therefore, our goal is to develop new implantable tissues that can repair and remodel as the heart grows – as a permanent repair for congenital defects. Our current primary research focus is on the development implantable “Engineered Cardiac Tissues” or ECTs that include beating heart muscle cells and fibrous proteins in 3-dimensional solid tubes that can be used for cardiac repair. We generate these tissues using non-embryonic human stem cells called induced pluripotent stem cells (h-iPSCs) that are generated from mature skin cells. These h-iPSCs can then be used to generate every cell type in the human body. We use h-iPSCs to generate the heart and vascular cells required to create new working heart muscle. These ECTs can be characterized for maturation in structure and function and we have shown that these ECTs can repair heart damage in small animal models with surgically created myocardial infarction. Current research is focused on optimizing the geometry and cell composition of these ECTs to generate patches that are large enough for large animal and future human use.
The Division of Pediatric Heart Research encourages the participation of undergraduate and graduate students as well as junior faculty in all aspects of our research program.