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BHF award to study epicardium in early development

last modified May 26, 2018 08:28 PM

The BHF has awarded Dr Sanjay Sinha £183,000 to identify different cells groups within the outer layer of the heart (epicardium) that plays an important role in heart development and the heart's response to a heart attack. 

After a heart attack, damage to the heart muscle is irreversible as the heart does not repair itself or replace damaged tissue. This can lead to heart failure, a condition where the heart is less able to pump blood around the body.

Epicardial cells have different levels of several key proteins, such as TCF21 and WT1. These proteins are believed to play a critical role by controlling the growth of cells which eventually form the connective tissues and blood vessels of the heart in an embryo. Dr Sinha will be studying the differences between epicardial cells to see if some cells have better regenerative properties than others.

Unlike some fish and amphibians, humans are unable to replace or regenerate lost heart muscle. However, by determining how the epicardium controls heart cell growth in the embryo, Dr Sinha believes it might be possible to design new therapies that could turn on the heart's regenerative capacity in adults.

The award was originally announced on the BHF website.

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