When a person has a heart attack, working cardiac muscle dies and is replaced by scar tissue. Treatments are few and those that are available are mostly aimed at slowing the progression of the patient’s underlying heart disease, rather than restoring function to the damaged part of the heart.
But Michael Laflamme, a senior scientist at the University Health Network’s Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, is head of an interdisciplinary team of investigators working toward using stem cells to reverse heart failure, a project funded by the University of Toronto’s Medicine by Design initiative to fast-track cardiac cell therapy.
Laflamme credits progress to “the hothouse of talent that has clustered so many scientists, entrepreneurs, support workers and a lot of generous philanthropy in the regenerative medicine ecosystem.”
The project is one of 19 collaborations funded by Medicine by Design to accelerate discoveries and move them from the lab to patients more quickly. If successful, the cardiomyocyte transplant project could help restore function and health in patients experiencing heart failure after a heart attack.
Successful stem cell therapies in humans are nearly within reach. Some cross-disciplinary collaboration is helping us get there.