Last updated date4:45pm
One in three deaths in the United States results from cardiovascular disease, and risk factors (hypertension and obesity) are increasingly prevalent. Despite the epidemic scale of predisposing conditions, major advances in prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease have plateaued. Stem-cell based regenerative therapies may address aspects of cardiovascular disease in an real, lasting and cost-effective by repairing blood vessels in affected tissues and this restoring healthy blood flow. However, previous attempts to employ cell-based methods of improving vascular function have met with limited success and recent work has shown that organ-specific vascular cells are essential mediators of tissue regeneration. We have generated human embryonic stem cells and genetically engineered mouse models that enable tracking and isolation of vascular cells that specifically arise within the heart during embryogenesis. Using these tools, we have identified novel signaling pathways and secreted factors that are uniquely active in within the developing heart. Drawing upon this cohort of novel factors, we are testing approaches for treatment of cardiovascular ischemia using delivery of either cardiac and vascular cells that contribute directly to rescue of heart tissue, or bioactive regenerative factors that uniquely mobilize heart-resident stem/progenitor cells to promote recovery.