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Developing new cardiac regeneration therapies

University of Sydney

  • Cardiovascular Clinician Scientist Grant
Organ System:
  • Cardiovascular
Date Funded:
  • 31 May, 2019
Chief Investigator/s:
  • Associate Professor James Chong

Project summary

Improving heart failure and myocardial infarction outcomes through development of new cardiac regeneration therapies.

What is the issue for NSW?

The purpose of this project is to develop new therapies to reduce costs associated with deaths and illnesses from large myocardial infarctions (heart attacks) and resulting heart failure. Cardiovascular disease is the largest killer of Australians and heart attacks are a large cause of this. Heart attacks affect an estimated 258.45 people per 100,000 US population (Global Data 2017), and potential for treatment costs are estimated to reach US$1,726.3 million by 2023 (Zion Market Research).

Treatment of heart attack includes immediate measures to salvage the parts of the heart muscle at risk of permanent damage (scarring). Most patients who receive sufficient treatment survive. However, as a result of their heart injury, these patients frequently progress to heart failure. The potential for treatment costs for chronic heart failure in the US is estimated to reach US$12,137 million by 2026.

What does the research aim to do and how?

Our research explores two broad themes to achieve these treatment goals:

1) use of heart muscle grafts derived from stem cells; and

2) changing how the scarring of the heart occurs after a heart attack.

My previous training and my group’s unique techniques will push these research themes forward. These techniques include: developing a stem cell culturing technique on a clinical scale (billions of cells), and developing the stem cells into heart muscle cells; small animal models (mouse and rat) and large animal models (sheep and pig) of heart attack and heart failure; and new, cutting-edge molecular and imaging analysis.

I am translating our most promising therapeutic methods towards clinical trials so that this research may one day lead to new therapies for patients who have had a heart attack, are in heart failure and who have heart rhythm abnormalities. A patent has already been filed and the University of Sydney is commercialising our methods.