Regenerative Medicine Affinity Group
The Cardiovascular Center has initiated AFFINITY GROUPS to stimulate and foster greater interaction and collaborations between CVC investigators and other investigators from MCW departments and outside institutions, such as Marquette University, the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and the University of Georgia.
This Program Project Grant (PPG) is led by the affinity group’s organizer, John W. Lough, PhD. Other principal investigators in the group include John Auchampach, PhD, Stephen Dalton, PhD, Stephen A. Duncan, DPhil, Ravi Misra, PhD, and Paula E. North, MD,. With the exception of Dr. Dalton who is at the University of Georgia, all members are Medical College of Wisconsin faculty.
This affinity group is based on the recent receipt of a five-year, $8 million, multi-investigator PPG from the National Institutes of Health. The overall goal of this multi-laboratory investigation is to understand how human pluripotent stem cells, defined as cells that if left to their own designs can develop into any of the more than 200 cell types in the human body, can be channeled to exclusively become heart muscle cells. Fulfillment of this objective is of crucial importance, because the ability to replace the contractile component of the heart following injury or disease has not been achieved. If pluripotent cells can be used to produce the contractile cells of the heart (cardiac myocytes) these could potentially be transplanted into injured or diseased hearts to compensate for loss of this specialized muscle tissue.
The integrative theme of this group’s research regards the role of “definitive endoderm,” a group of cells in the embryo that direct and induce the development of the heart in the embryo. During the past 15-20 years, acquiring an understanding of these cells has been the independent focus of four of the team’s members, who are now pooling their expertise to assess whether endoderm-generated signals can efficiently and reproducibly induce pluripotent stem cells into the cardiomyogenic (i.e., heart muscle) lineage. Theoretically, this should result in the generation of a pure cardiac myocyte population, in sufficient numbers (tens of millions) for remedial transplantation, the efficacy of which will be evaluated using animal models of heart disease.
Success achieving these tasks is promoted by synergy with MCW’s shared core facilities, especially researchers in the MCW Cardiovascular and Human and Molecular Genetics Centers.
Cardiovascular Annual Report 2010
Contact the CVC for additional information