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 Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution
09.12.2016 | Veterans Affairs Research Communications

nachricht Oxygen can wake up dormant bacteria for antibiotic attacks
08.12.2016 | Penn State

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: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>