2014 – ISSCR Press Releases and Statements

The ISSCR Celebrates American Heart Month

Feb 13, 2014

The International Society for Stem Cell Research Recognizes American Heart Month with a Fresh Look at Research Related to Endogenous (Self) Repair 

The Public is Invited to Learn More at “An Introduction to Endogenous Heart Repair,”
A Live Public Webcast, Taking Place February 20, 1:00 p.m.-1:30 p.m. CST

CHICAGO — Millions of people across the globe suffer from heart attacks each year, and those that survive are left with scar tissue, which leads to an increased risk of chronic heart failure. In recognition of American Heart Month, the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) is pleased to shed light on an exciting area of stem cell research which could someday allow doctors to regenerate heart tissue within patients’ bodies, a process dubbed endogenous repair.

Dr. Deepak Srivastava, Director of Cardiovascular Disease and the Stem Cell Center at the Gladstone Institutes and ISSCR board member, was the first to show that fibroblasts, structural support cells found throughout the body, can be directly reprogrammed into cardiomyocytes, heart muscle cells. He and his team have demonstrated that fibroblasts in the heart can be converted to heart muscle cells capable of regenerating healthy heart tissue after cardiac damage. Since fibroblasts make-up over half of the cells in the human heart, there is a vast pool of cells that can be harnessed to create new muscle for conditions like heart failure, which affects over 23 million worldwide. The reprogramming process, which has been tested in mouse hearts, will need to be optimized and proven to work in larger mammals before researchers can consider human clinical trials to assess the safety of future treatments.

“The road to the clinic is a long one, and there is still a lot to prove along the way – that newly-created cardiomyocytes can function effectively alongside existing heart cells, for example,” Srivastava said. “Still, it is very exciting to think that a key to treating chronic heart failure, a problem that impacts so many, could lie within our own bodies.”

The ISSCR is hosting a free public webcast, entitled “An Introduction to Endogenous Heart Repair,” on February 20 from 1:00 p.m.-1:30 p.m. CST. Srivastava will present an overview of current research and its potential and will field questions from participants. The event will be available via the ISSCR Connect Public Channel at www.isscr.org/home/connect, and interested participants are encouraged to register in advance.

About the International Society for Stem Cell Research (www.isscr.org)
The International Society for Stem Cell Research is an independent, nonprofit membership organization established to promote and foster the exchange and dissemination of information and ideas relating to stem cells, to encourage the general field of research involving stem cells and to promote professional and public education in all areas of stem cell research and application.

Contact: Michelle Quivey, Senior Communications Manager,
International Society for Stem Cell Research
+1-224-592-5012; mquivey@isscr.org

Interviews with Dr. Srivastava are available upon request.