Building Heart Muscle in the Embryo and from Embryonic Stem Cells
Movie of rhythmically beating heart muscle, which was artificially built from Embryonic Stem Cells in the laboratory, by giving the same sequence of molecular instructions that are normally given during heart muscle formation in the embryo.
Heart muscle is initially built in the embryo, but then in the adult, injured heart muscle cannot be effectively repaired, for instance following a heart attack (myocardial infarction). To inform future therapeutic strategies for promoting regeneration of injured heart muscle, we are studying how heart muscle formation is normally guided during early embryonic development.
We are currently focussing on a set of instructions given by the molecular pathway called Wnt signalling, which is a key regulator of heart development and is also involved in the pathological response to myocardial infarction. We are also studying how the instructions given by the future heart muscle cell switch on the genes needed for heart muscle function.
Professor Stefan Hoppler (Research scientist, University of Aberdeen)
Dr Boni Afouda (Research scientist, University of Aberdeen)