Next generation pacemakers; using cells controlled by light to correct abnormal heart beats 

Professor Chris Denning - Professor in Stem Cell Biology, University of Nottingham

Professor Lior Gepstein, Professor of Medicine and Physiology, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology/ RAMBAM Health care Campus

Co-funded by the British Heart Foundation

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide and around 175,000 people suffer heart attacks each year in the UK each year.

One of the most promising treatments for heart failure is to grow new heart muscles using stem cell technologies that can be transplanted into the heart and improve its pumping power. For some time Professor Denning’s team has competed with Professor Lior Gepstein’s group at Technion in Israel.
On this project, they will work together and share expertise and resources towards the shared goal of regenerating the heart after a heart attack. The strengths of each team will complement each other.

The researchers will work with a pacemaker, which controls heart rhythm using light rather than an electrical impulse. This approach could be used to prevent heart rhythm problems in the grafted tissue which is a major hurdle in using stem cells to mend broken hearts.
They will also be looking at a different way to grow heart cells from stem cells that could mean they are more likely to survive and work better after transplant onto the heart.