Over 5 million Americans suffer with congestive heart failure, and 500,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Unfortunately, these numbers are likely to worsen over the next two decades, as the total number of heart failure patients is expected to rise by over 50%. Ischemic heart disease is the most common cause of heart failure, and stem cell transplantation may represent the first realistic clinical strategy for actually reversing the deleterious effects of what has been considered irreversible damage to the heart resulting from myocardial infarction. However, significant hurdles must still be overcome before successful human translation of this strategy can be realized; in particular, a means is needed both for preventing the rapid death of most of the transplanted cells and for encouraging their functional contribution to the heart. We propose a strategy, termed Matrix-Assisted Myocardium Stabilization (MAMS) that has been developed by a collaboration of bioengineers, stem cell biologists, and cardiac surgeons to improve the efficacy of stem cell transplantation into a heart injured by MI. The goal of our research proposal is to enhance the survival and performance of cells transplanted into ischemically damaged heart muscle and that, within a four-year period, can begin clinical testing for preservation of cardiac function and prevention of post-MI heart failure.
The proposed research will benefit California by preserving and strengthening California’s position as a leader in the emerging field of human stem cell therapeutics. Through the recent passage of Proposition 71, the voters of California have identified stem cell research as a key area of focus for the state, with anticipated positive impacts including: creation of biotechnology jobs, attraction of leading researchers to Californian universities, creation of valuable intellectual property, and advancement of therapeutics beneficial to California’s residents. This proposal will bring California’s diverse technical resources to bear towards this goal by combining the expertise of leading academics in the fields of biomaterials and bioengineering with world-leading clinicians to the field of human stem cell therapeutics. Millions of Californians stand to benefit from development of stem cell-based therapies in our program of heart failure treatment, many more could be affected by the translation of our technology to similar therapies for additional cardiac degenerative disorders.