Using heart cells to restore damaged muscle following a heart attack

Co-funded by the British Heart Foundation

Professor Paul Riley – Professor of Regenerative Medicine, University of Oxford

Professor Eldad Tzahor – Associate Professor, Weizmann Institute of Science

Today 480 people in the UK will go to hospital having suffered a heart attack. Around seven in ten of those people will survive but irreparable damage will have been caused to the heart making it less able to pump blood around the body. There is no cure for this and the shortage of donor hearts mean a transplant is only possible for a lucky few. 

In 2011 Professor Paul Riley and his colleagues made an important breakthrough which offered hope of a way to repair the heart without needing a transplant. Professor Riley showed, in mice, how, after damage, adult heart tissue can be stimulated to repair itself by growing new heart muscle cells. He now hopes to learn how we can achieve the same results in people with damaged hearts.

This project will allow Professor Riley to team up with researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. His expertise in the study of the outer layer of the heart, known as the epicardium, which has proven to be a source of cells that can help regenerate the heart will be allied with Professor Tzahor’s knowledge of the processes involved in growing large numbers of heart muscle cells.