Research breakthroughs at the University of Wisconsin Cardiovascular Research Center:
- Breaking the Code
Although nearly half of all heart failure has no clearly identifiable cause, for an increasing number of patients, the disease appears to have a genetic basis. A team of researchers is working to unlock the genetic code and improve the lives of millions of Americans.
- The Central Dogma
Professor Gail Robertson and her team in the Cardiovascular Research Center recently reported a new discovery that helps explain how proteins that assemble to form macromolecular machines of cellular function find each other. Working with the elements that control electrical activity in the heart, they found that RNA molecules encoding different proteins that must come together to keep the heart beating correctly are physically associated themselves, enabling the proteins to assemble while they are being synthesized and eliminating the need for a “finding” mechanism.
- Primitive Master Heart Cells
A team led by cardiologist Timothy J. Kamp reports transforming mouse fibroblasts, cells found mostly in connective tissue such as skin, into primitive master heart cells known as induced cardiac progenitor cells. The technology could permit a scalable method for making an almost unlimited supply of the three major types of cells in the heart. If replicated in human cells, the feat could one day fuel drug discovery, powerful new models for heart disease and the raw material for treating diseased hearts.
- Regenerating Heart Muscle
Recent advances at the University of Wisconsin and around the world have opened the possibility that diseased or damaged heart muscle can be repaired or replaced. Research using human stem cells to generate human heart muscle cells in a dish, studies engineering heart tissue for transplantation, investigations optimizing the techniques for cell and tissue delivery to the heart, and pioneering clinical trials are all actively being pursued by CVRC investigators. These investigations hold promise to truly revolutionize the treatment for a broad variety of heart diseases in man.
- Going With the Flow
Investigators at the University of Wisconsin are using animal and heart cell models to better understand the causes of myocardial ischemia and the cellular and molecular changes it induces in heart muscle cells.
- Preparing the Next Generation
Research faculty teach medical students and train graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and clinical fellows–the future scientists and physicians destined to lead in treating and ultimately reducing the incidence of cardiovascular diseases.
- Working Together
Across the campus physical scientists are developing more sensitive and reliable ways to measure heart and vascular function while molecular biologists and geneticists are studying genetic causes of disease. Their research successes are swiftly translated into improved patient care and disease prevention by physicians working in UW clinics and hospital rooms.
- Translational Research
Discoveries made in Cardiovascular Research Center laboratories and clinics translate into new techniques and treatments–breakthroughs that are quickly put to use in preventing and fighting heart disease.