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Using human 3D engineered heart tissue for discovery of new drugs

Associate Professor James Hudson, Institution: The Council of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research

2016 Future Leader Fellowship

Years funded: 2017-2020


Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Australia. Despite decades of research into cardiac disease we are still not capable of regenerating/replacing any dead heart cells following injury such as a heart attack. This leads to progressive deterioration in heart function over time in many patients despite current drug treatments.

In general scientific research has focussed on using small animal models such as rodents in order to try and discover new therapies. However, the heart cells in these animal models exhibit many differences in their biology compared to human heart cells. Therefore, human cardiac models may facilitate better platforms for drug development.

 The current proposal builds on my previous research - human cardiac organoids for the study of cardiac biology. I have now also developed a high-throughput screening platform and I propose in this project to further develop this platform and utilise it to find novel factors which can facilitate re-activation of cardiomyocyte proliferation. Re-activation of cardiomyocyte proliferation would potentially facilitate regeneration of the adult heart following a heart attack, which is currently a central goal of modern cardiovascular medicine. The proposed studies will also demonstrate the potential of the human cardiac orgaoid platform for drug discovery applications. Together these outcomes will hopefully lead to better, cheaper drugs in the future with less reliance on animal models.

This project is co-funded with NHMRC - National Health and Medical Research Council.

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