Dr James Hudson and Dr Enzo Porrello from the UQSchool of Biomedical Sciences collaborated with German researchers to create models of human heart tissue in the laboratory so they can study cardiac biology and diseases ‘in a dish’.
“In the laboratory we used dry ice to kill part of the tissue while leaving the surrounding muscle healthy and viable,” Dr Hudson said.
“We found those tissues fully recovered because they were immature and the cells could regenerate – in contrast to what happens normally in the adult heart where you get a ‘dead’ patch.
“Our goal is to use this model to potentially find new therapeutic targets to enhance or induce cardiac regeneration in people with heart failure.
“Studying regeneration of these damaged, immature cells will enable us to figure out the biochemical events behind this process.
“Hopefully we can determine how to replicate this process in adult hearts for cardiovascular patients.”
Each year, about 54,000 Australians suffer a heart attack, with an average of about 23 deaths every day.
Heart Foundation Queensland CEO Stephen Vines said the charity was excited to fund such an important research project.
“Heart attack survivors who have had permanent damage to their heart tissue are essentially trying to live on half an engine,” Mr Vines said.
“The research by Dr Hudson and Dr Porello will help unlock the key to regenerating damaged heart tissue, which will have a huge impact on the quality of life for heart attack survivors.”
“Dr Hudson and Dr Porello are deserved recipients of our highest national research accolade – the Future Leader Fellowship Award.”