When Cell Therapy Isn’t Enough: Building Cardiovascular Solutions in 2016

Doris A. Taylor. Photo credit Business WireDoris A. Taylor. Photo credit Business Wire

Lecture by Doris A. Taylor, Director, Regenerative Medicine Research and Director, Center for Cell and Organ Biotechnology at Texas Heart Institute

This event is free and open to the public.

Heart disease is the number-one killer of Americans, claiming 874,000 lives each year. Stem-cell therapy holds great promise for treating cardiovascular disease, but results to date have been disappointing. Outcomes are highly variable when patients are treated with their own, or autologous, bone marrow cells. Furthermore, the inclusion of women in these studies has been inadequate. And the last chance for men and women suffering from end-stage heart failure is a heart transplant, but the number of available donor organs falls far short of the need.

Taylor will discuss improvements to stem-cell therapies and her additional focus on developing better treatments for heart disease, including building bio-artificial organs for transplant that use a patient’s own stem cells, thus avoiding the complications of organ rejection. 

The groundbreaking work of Taylor and her team has demonstrated the ability in the lab to strip organs, including the heart, of their cellular make-up leaving a decellularized "scaffold." The heart can then be re-seeded with cells that, when supplied with blood and oxygen, regenerate the scaffold into a functioning heart. Taylor calls this using nature's platform to create a bioartificial heart.

The hope is that this research is an early step toward being able to grow a fully functional human heart in the laboratory. Taylor has demonstrated that the process works for other organs as well, such as kidney, pancreas, lung, and liver where she has already tested the same approach—opening a door in the field of organ transplantation.