A Chemical approach to Generating Patient-specific Cardiac Stem Cells for Cell Therapy against Cardiovascular Disease

JI Program: Cardiovascular


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in the world today, and the death rate has remained virtually unchanged in the last twenty years. The severity and prevalence of this disease underscores a critical need for developing novel therapeutic strategies for effective treatment. Cell-based therapy represents an extremely promising approach to treat heart diseases but requires strict safety and efficacy tests before clinical trials. In principle, somatic cells obtained from a heart patient can be reprogrammed to generate his/her own human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs). These iPSCs can then be differentiated into heart cells or tissues for transplantation. While this strategy should avoid any undesired immune response from patients, two major issues exist: the potential oncogenic property of the hiPSCs due to the use of viral vectors and the oncogenic transgenes, and the uncertainty of appropriate differentiated cell types for successful heart transplantation therapies. The study’s objectives are: 1) to optimize a chemical approach as a much safer strategy to generate patient specific iPSCs, and 2) to efficiently differentiate the chemically induced iPSCs into cardiac progenitor cells as an ideal cell source for heart regeneration. The PKUHSC and Michigan Medicine team offers unparalleled expertise and resources for the success of the pioneer work proposed here – addressing these two critical issues in heart disease therapy. The team hopes to achieve the long-term goal of developing stem cell-based heart therapies to effectively prolong and improve the life of patients with CVD.


  • Mastered the technique for chemical induced mouse iPSCs and characterized the mouse iPSCs into cardiac lineages.
  • Derived embryonic stem cell lines or induced pluripotent stem cell lines that are able to contribute both embryonic and extra-embryonic lineages.
  • Transplanted ESC/iPSC derived cardiac progenitor cells and cardiomyocytes into infarcted animal hearts.
  • Exploring the regulatory pathway with the FDA to repurpose a currently approved drug to treat acute heart attack.


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