Finding the most effective cells in the body to rebuild the heart  

Professor Bruno Peault - Professor of Regenerative Medicine, University of Edinburgh

Professor Joseph Itskovitz-Eldor - Professor of the Stem Cell Centre, Technion– Israel Institute of Technology / Rambam Health Care Campus 

 Co-funded by the British Heart Foundation

Coronary heart disease, the major cause of heart attacks, is the UK’s single biggest killer and is responsible for around 73,000 deaths in the UK each year. While heart attack survival rates are higher than ever, there is no cure for heart failure following a heart attack where the heart is less able to pump blood around the body. 

There is a significant shortage of donor hearts so researchers hope the treatments of the future will come in the form of regenerative medicine where damage to the heart is repaired or lost tissue is regenerated. 

Professor Peault and Professor Itskovitz-Eldor are focusing on spider-like cells, that wrap around blood vessels, called pericytes. These cells are known to have the ability to stimulate the regeneration of tissue. But different pericyte types appear to have specific functions – some are responsible for the formation of scar tissue after damage rather than the regeneration of the damaged tissue. 

By identifying the best pericytes for mending broken hearts, this project will help researchers take an important step towards a regenerative treatment for people whose hearts are damaged by heart attack.