The research, funded with a grant of £95,000 the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), is looking at the process that turns a stem cell into a cardiomyocyte — the beating cell that makes up the heart.
The Nottingham researchers are developing a new system to monitor cardiomyocytes in real time as they differentiate from stem cells into beating heart cells. The system uses electrophysiology to record the electrical properties in a cell and will be the first time it has been used to study cardiomyocyte cells in the UK.
The researchers hope that their research could provide more detailed information on the electrical activity of stem cell derived cardiomyocytes. In the longer term, this could facilitate their use in regenerating the damaged hearts of heart attack victims.
Dr Chris Denning, of the University’s Wolfson Centre for Stem Cells, Tissue Engineering & Modelling, said: “Human embryonic stem cells promise unrivalled opportunities. However, they are difficult, time-consuming and expensive to grow in the lab.
"Our understanding of how to convert them into cardiomyocytes is poor. At the moment we only know how to produce a few million cardiomyocytes, but to treat just one heart attack patient, we may need one billion that all function in the correct way."
To help overcome the many challenges that stem cells bring, Dr Denning and co-investigator Professor Stephen Hill plan to engineer a novel system for real-time analysis of cardiomyocytes during early development so their properties are better understood.
The team has already demonstrated that sufficient numbers of stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes can be produced for detailed analysis and they plan to use new 'electrophysiology' systems to record changes in the cells when cultured. Electrophysiology is the study of cells' electrical properties and this is the first time that the method has been used in the UK to study stem cell-cardiomyocyte biology.
Dr Denning added: "This research will enable rapid development of stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes as a tool for understanding the heart and its diseases.
"But before we can consider using stem cells to treat heart-attack patients there are many problems which will take many years to solve. We don't yet know how to deliver the cells to a patient's heart and prevent them being washed away so that they actually stay in the heart and both survive and function.
“It will take many years to overcome these challenges and put stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes into medical usage."
The researchers will also be monitoring how the cells respond to different pharmacological agents in order to improve drug-screening processes and reduce the need for animal testing.
"A key part of the project is to monitor the effects of different drugs on the cells,” said Dr Denning. “At present, only limited information is available on how they respond to pharmacological or gene modulating agents.
"Between 1990 and 2001, 8 different drugs were withdrawn from the market in the USA at an estimated cost of $8billion because they caused unexpected deaths in several hundred patients. Our aim is to reduce such occurrences by having better test methods to test the drugs before they reach the clinic.
"By studying the drugs' effects on the heart cells in the lab, this could reduce the need for animals in clinical trials."
Don't Give the Slightest Chance to Toxic Elements in Medicinal Products
23.03.2018 | Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB)
North and South Cooperation to Combat Tuberculosis
22.03.2018 | Universität Zürich
Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.
The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...
An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.
The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...
In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.
Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...
Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.
They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...
A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...
23.03.2018 | Event News
19.03.2018 | Event News
16.03.2018 | Event News
23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences
23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy