Clinical Projects

How can patients with the most severely impaired heart function be rescued and optimized for future regenerative heart therapies?

Patients with advanced forms of heart failure often have hearts so weak that they need mechanical pumps to support circulation. This support is either facilitated by being connected to a machine that supports both heart and lung function or with a mechanical pump that is implanted (allowing the patient to remain mobile). We are screening this patient population for possible molecules that are associated with their prognosis and that may be used as drug targets. Projects in this line of research also involve developing strategies to implant total mechanical solutions for heart function and devising the best strategies to transplant cells supported by 3-D extracellular matrices. We also are investigating the best way to preserve and modify donor hearts in a way that optimizes transplantation treatment.

Patients with the most advanced failing hearts are the ones who need to be supported by mechanical hearts and artificial lungs to sustain basic circulatory needs (patients on mechanical circulatory support (MCS)). Despite technological developments, mortality hasn’t significantly improved in recent years. However, this may be because criteria for placing a patient on this type of therapy has become less strict, thus sicker and sicker patients have been put on treatment. To improve the care of patients on MCS, these patients are being investigated for new drug targets as well as for algorithms to predictors for mortality. Our objective is to develop better criteria for selecting patients for MCS, thereby improving their chance of survival.