Differentiation of Human Embryonic Stem Cells to Heart Cells

Funding Type: 
SEED Grant
Grant Number: 
RS1-00431
Investigator: 
ICOC Funds Committed: 
$0
Public Abstract: 
Public Abstract California researchers will investigate how human embryonic stem cells can be transformed into working heart cells. This will, advance us toward a cure for chronic heart disease – for which there is now no cure other than heart transplantation. In so doing, they will broaden our understanding of how human embryonic stem cells, in general, can be transformed into functional cells that repair and regenerate parts of the body that are damaged by disease or injury. Each year there are 1.2 million heart attacks in the US. Although most do not result in immediate death, the cumulative damage leads to 500,000 deaths per year. When the oxygen supply to parts of the heart is shut off, heart muscle cells die leaving only scar tissue. Repeated small heart attacks build up this damage until the heart can no longer pump in response to exertion or excitement. At that stage, patients can die of congestive heart failure. It was previously thought that the scarring damage that leads to heart attacks was permanent. In recent years, however, researchers have shown how the scar tissue may be repaired with stem cells from bone marrow. However it is not known if the bone marrow stem cells become new heart cells or stimulate existing cells in the heart to perform better. This project’s researchers have one of the few laboratories world wide that are able to grow cardiac cells in large numbers and test them. This research project will build from the investigators’ ongoing stem cell research experience and study human embryonic stem cells because of the remarkable ability of such stem cells to turn into almost any type of adult cell. To convert the human embryonic stem cells into cardiac specific cells before they are delivered into the heart it is essential that we understand the molecular and biochemical process for differentiating human embryonic stem cells Researchers plan to study human embryonic stem cells with a chemical inducers to drive the transformation from stem cell to heart cells. The investigators will use a new technique which they have developed to label heart specified cells. They will study the molecular changes that underly the changes as the stem cell transforms. To understand this process fully, they will intensely analyze with computers, changes in newly discovered molecules that control the DNA code of life The resulting heart cells will be administer into the hearts to test if they are, in fact, turning into effective new cells that replace scar tissue in the heart ventricle as theorized. The fate of the transformed stem cells will be followed with a new magnetic imaging method to measure simultaneously the change in scar size, heart performance and the longevity of the stem cells.
Statement of Benefit to California: 
Benefits to Californians The citizens of California have a right to expect many benefits from their forward looking approval of stem cell research. The initiative to fund human embryonic stem cell research will bring breakthroughs in treatments for previously untreatable diseases and create unprecedented new business opportunities. This proposal is directed to saving the thousands of Californians who die or suffer from heart failure each year. The only known cure available now is a heart transplant, but because the demand for hearts is greater than the number of donors, an alternative source of heart cells is needed. We are engaged in using the potentiality of human embryonic stem cells to turn them into heart cells that could be injected into damaged hearts and make them heal. To do this we have to build our understanding of the fundamental process of making a stem cell into a heart cell and then testing how effectively such cells can repair injured hearts. Knowing the underlying scientific principles at work in such a process will create the potential to benefit not only heart disease patients, benefits to Californians The citizens of California have a right to expect many benefits from their forward looking approval of stem cell research. The initiative to fund human embryonic stem cell research will bring breakthroughs in treatments for previously untreatable diseases and create unprecedented new business opportunities. This proposal is directed to saving the thousands of Californians who die or suffer from heart failure each year. The only known cure available now is a heart transplant, but because the demand for hearts is greater than the number of donors, an alternative source of heart cells is needed. We are engaged in using the potentiality of human embryonic stem cells to turn them into heart cells that could be injected into damaged hearts and make them heal. To do this we have to build our understanding of the fundamental process of making a stem cell into a heart cell and then testing how effectively such cells can repair injured hearts. Knowing the underlying scientific principles at work in such a process will create the potential to benefit not only heart disease patients, but also others suffering from diseases for which treatment is inadequate or not available. We anticipate that the entrepreneurial business spirit for which California is famous, will generate new jobs and businesses that will build upon the discoveries made in this type of stem cell research. This will leverage the economy because to have an inexhaustible supply of heart cells (or any other type of organ cell) will require significant commercial manufacturing processes. Biologicals for growing cells will be an industry. Newly discovered drugs can be tested on such cells by pharmaceutical companies. California will become the world’s provider of human cells, for transplantation treatments and cures, and it will reap the rewards of its investment.

© 2013 California Institute for Regenerative Medicine