Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers peer inside embryonic/fetal hearts to discover causes of congenital heart disease

05.04.2005


Doctor’s at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh are redefining early detection



Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Cardiologist Bradley B. Keller, MD, and his research team are discovering details in the lab that explain how the heart is formed in the embryo. This knowledge improves the chances of doctors identifying fetuses who can benefit from intervention to treat congenital defects.

Doctor’s in the Heart Center at Children’s are redefining what has typically been called early detection. With technologically advanced tools including echocardiography they are looking inside fetal hearts and spotting abnormalities months before babies are born.


Through fetal diagnosis, doctors can actually see the heart and valve structures and detect the most serious form of heart disease in children by 20 weeks of gestation, the mid-point in pregnancy.

In some cases, Dr. Keller turns to the embryo of a chick or a mouse to shed light on how the heart functions and how it acquires its normal structure during its earliest days. In his lab, the avian embryo is an experimental model capable of being modified to allow for the study of specific heart conditions.

For example, hypoplastic left heart syndrome is created by simply tying a small suture around the developing atrium, which alters how blood flows into the heart and reduces the flow on the left side. "If blood flow is reduced to the left side of the heart, the structures on that side of the heart will not grow and the embryo will have hypoplastic left heart syndrome – exactly as we see it in patients," said Dr. Keller, chief of cardiology at Children’s. "We can then identify the changes in structure and function associated with this condition and determine if we can reverse this condition by fetal intervention."

To get even more from such models, Children’s is participating in the development of new high-resolution imaging systems that allows scientists to peer inside the embryonic heart when it is a small as 2 millimeteres, measure blood flow, and visualize heart function prior to the completion of cardiac valve formation.

Using mice models, researchers are studying how interactions between the pregnant mother and embryo influence how the heart forms and functions. To do so, an operating room environment was created – replete with anesthesia, blood pressure monitoring, surgical techniques and imaging capabilities – to study the mother and embryo simultaneously and observe interactions, such as the effect of low oxygen or how certain medications taken by the mother affect developing heart function and embryo survival.

Researchers in Dr. Keller’s lab also are using heart muscle cells from the chick and mouse embryos to regenerate "tissue-engineered" heart tissues in order to understand how the mechanical environment triggers heart muscle cells to mature and divide. It is all part of learning more about the heart as a dynamic, moving element during development, when dividing cells are forming the heart while constantly exposed to stretching, twisting and other forces.

"Because our long-term goal is to repair the heart using a patient’s own cells and tissues, cell transplant, for example, we have to understand their native environment," Keller added.

Congenital heart disease is of particular interest to Dr. Keller and his team – who follow their patients from prior to birth well into adulthood. Improvements in general diagnostic cardiology and interventions that open up heart valves or close holes in the heart using catheters and minimally invasive techniques are helping young patients avoid major surgery.

Children’s doctors have made great strides in diagnosing problems with echocardiology, a safe, noninvasive procedure that uses high frequency sound waves to deliver a detailed picture of the heart. Children’s also is expanding its interventional cardiac catheterization lab to take advantage of new ways to use catheters as therapeutic devices and is partnering with local biotechnology companies to develop novel approaches that optimize both software and the catheters used for interventional procedures.

At Children’s, researchers are studying tissue engineering for ways to regulate how heart muscle cells grow and mature, hoping that someday such science can be used to repair abnormalities in the heart of children. But, detection is the first step.

For more information about Dr. Keller or his research please visit the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh’s Web site at www.chp.edu. Enter the Press Room for more reporter-friendly information.

Melanie Finnigan | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.chp.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Organ-on-a-chip mimics heart's biomechanical properties
23.02.2017 | Vanderbilt University

nachricht Researchers identify cause of hereditary skeletal muscle disorder
22.02.2017 | Klinikum der Universität München

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Organ-on-a-chip mimics heart's biomechanical properties

23.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light-driven reaction converts carbon dioxide into fuel

23.02.2017 | Life Sciences

Oil and gas wastewater spills alter microbes in West Virginia waters

23.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>