Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

New platform for cardiovascular drug testing

Cardiovascular diseases remain the number one health concern worldwide. A European study attempted to develop a new curative approach for cardiovascular disease based on stem cell technology.
New platform for cardiovascular drug testing
Current pharmacological interventions are unable to provide a long-lasting cure for cardiovascular diseases, making organ transplantation the final option for recovery. Available in vitro models lack the complexity of a living tissue, whereas in vivo animal testing raises ethical concerns and issues about their translatability to humans.

The EU-funded TIME TO MATURE (Design and validation of a conductive polymer-based system for the functional maturation of human pluripotent stem cell derived cardiomyocytes as a platform for drug testing) project developed a new in vitro model that provides features resembling native cardiac tissue for drug screening purposes.

Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSC) represent a potentially unlimited source of cardiomyocytes (CM) for biopharmacological needs. Discovery of the human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC) enables the development of cell models capable of recapitulating patient-specific disease features. A main objective of the TIME TO MATURE initiative was the improvement of the hPSC differentiation process into CM to obtain a homogeneous population of functional and mature cells.

The project successfully developed an optimised CM-differentiation protocol from five different hPSC lines followed by extensive genetic profiling, which included markers for cardiac chamber specification. This analysis provided new data on how this set of genes is expressed alongside hPSC differentiation. Importantly, researchers designed and produced the molecular biology tools that enable the specific direction of hPSC-derived CM towards the atrial or the ventricular fate.

TIME TO MATURE achieved exciting results in the production of an array of conductive protein-based hydrogels to support the growth and function of primary cardiac cells including hPSC-derived CM. Researchers extensively characterised the functionality of the new hydrogel on hPSC-CM at several levels. Study with hiPSC lines derived from a patient with a genetic form of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy provided key information on the applicability of hydrogels for personalised medicine applications.

In conclusion, project members discovered that protein-based hydrogels offer novel substrates for CM-based studies. Excitingly, the use of a protein-based hydrogel enables the development of strategies that permit truly personalised models for drug testing.

Related information

Keywords

Cardiovascular disease, stem cells, TIME TO MATURE, hPSC, conductive protein-based hydrogel, tissue engineering
Record Number: 198875 / Last updated on: 2017-06-16
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