Science in the Schneider Lab is focused on developing novel pharmacological strategies for heart repair, leading to new therapies for heart failure, the number one killer of human beings. The broad research areas include small molecules, giant biomaterial biopolymer molecules, and human pluripotent stem cells including human ES and iPSC cells.
Our approaches include discovery and development of small molecule drugs like 3.5-disubstituted isoxazoles (Isx), a unique family of organic compounds originally identified in a stem cell-based screen of the UT Southwestern chemical library.
Isx induces differentiation in a variety of cells, including pluripotent, multipotent-stromal, neural stem and pancreatic β cells, among others, and has in-vivo efficacy in mice as well. Isx science has produced almost a dozen chemical biology and pharmacology related papers, yet the precise mechanism-of-action and target protein still remain elusive. This demonstrates the power and versatility of small-molecules as biology discovery tools.
The Schneider lab is also playing a major role in the commercialization of Isx small-molecules, which are patented and licensed to LoneStar Heart, Inc. at the UT Southwestern BioCenter.
A second major approach in our laboratory involves biomaterial-mediated heart repair. In particular, we study alginate, a hydrogel-forming polysaccharide purified from Norwegian brown seaweed that mediates a biological process coined, “seaweed myocardial regeleration," which is already in Phase II clinical trials overseas.
Additionally, we have recently begun to study “myomatrix,” a complex collection of bioactive extracellular matrix molecules prepared from decellularized pig heart. Myomatrix and seaweed alginate have distinctive mechanisms of action in myocardium.
Additionally, as Hub PI for the NHLBI PCBC, a U01 funded national network of stem/progenitor cell biologists and regenerative medicine experts, our lab studies human pluripotent stem cell (PSC) production, growth, and differentiation. Our major focus is human PSC-derived cardiomyocyte maturation, although we study other important cell fates as well.
Additionally, we are also studying the molecular pathophysiology of Chagas heart disease in iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes from baboons naturally infected with Trypanosoma cruzi in captivity at the Southwest National Primate Research Center in San Antonio, Texas.