A novel therapeutic approach for heart regeneration

Years funded:
2016 - 2019

The adult human heart has an extremely limited ability to regenerate following a heart attack. As a consequence, a heart attack can lead to a permanent loss of heart muscle cells, which reduces the heart's ability to effectively pump blood around the body.

Once heart failure is established, the prognosis is grim, with only 50% of patients surviving beyond five years. The only option for heart failure patients is heart transplantation, which is limited by organ donor availability and carries serious risks.

One of the central goals of modern cardiology is to develop regenerative therapies that will enable recovery of heart function following a heart attack. Dr Enzo Porrello recently discovered that, in contrast to the adult heart, the newborn heart can efficiently regenerate following a heart attack but this regenerative capacity rapidly dimishes shortly after birth.

This discovery has opened up new avenues in trying to understand the mechanisms that allow the newborn heart to regenerate following injury and which prevent the adult heart from doing the same.

This Fellowship aims to unravel the genetic circuits that govern heart regeneration in the neonatal period. Through understanding the basic processes that govern the heart's ability to naturally regenerate during early development, the proposed research program aims to develop novel therapies for heart regeneration following heart attack.

Researcher Profile

Dr Enzo Porrello

Institute: The University of Queensland
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