Putting a mechanical pump to the regenerative test
Might heart attack-damaged heart muscle be prompted to repair itself? To find out, researchers with the Hamon Center for Regenerative Science and Medicine at UT Southwestern launched clinical trials to investigate whether a type of mechanical pump called a ventricular assist device (VAD) can create an environment that results in regeneration of heart cells.
“Research at UT Southwestern over the past five years was the first to show that the heart muscle in mammals can actually regrow in the early days of life,” said Dr. Hesham Sadek, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Associate Director of the Hamon Center, who holds the J. Fred Schoellkopf, Jr. Chair in Cardiology. “This ability stops, in part because of the workload that the heart has to do. We believe that taking away that load by using VADs will reactivate this regenerative ability of the heart.”
VADs are used to support heart function and blood flow in people who have weakened hearts. The device takes blood from a lower chamber of the heart and helps pump it to the body and vital organs, just as a healthy heart would.
UT Southwestern has played an integral role throughout the relatively short history of VAD therapy and in the device’s rapidly evolving technology. The Medical Center participated in the landmark clinical trial (REMATCH) that led to the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the first left ventricular assist device for destination therapy and was the only North Texas center to participate in the HeartWare Bridge-to-Transplant trial, which was completed in 2012 and led to FDA approval of the device.
The clinical trials will be conducted through a new Ventricular Assist Device Program. The first trials will be conducted with patients who currently have or will be getting VADs implanted to treat heart failure.
For more information on the clinical trials, firstname.lastname@example.org Ingrid Kepinski