Heart failure is a severe and progressive epidemic that impacts millions of individuals around the world. In fact, it’s among the leading causes of death due to cardiovascular disease. Fifty percent of those diagnosed with the disease will die within five years and, after 10 years, nine out of 10 patients are deceased.
Given the limited medical options available to those who have been diagnosed, researchers at AstraZeneca have focused extensive research and resources on developing a treatment that sounds like the stuff of science fiction – helping the heart repair itself.
Referred to as cardiac regeneration strategy, researchers found that adult cardiomyocytes, the cells that make up the cardiac muscle, are capable of proliferating. Researchers at AstraZeneca believe that this finding helps set the course for breakthroughs that could significantly improve the lives of heart failure patients.
Understanding that this work cannot be done in a silo, and in an effort to support and continue research into new therapies, AstraZeneca’s cardiac regeneration team has collaborated with other institutions and thought-leaders in the industry. Perhaps most notably, a partnership with Moderna Therapeutics and Professor Ken Chien and his research group at the Integrated Cardio-Metabolic Centre at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, is using modified RNA to stimulate the targeted production of various growth factors.
While this important research continues, the patient remains at the center of the equation. Cardiac stem cells are used to screen AstraZeneca’s library of 10,000 drug candidates for their potential to induce and augment the human body’s ability to regenerate and repair damaged cardiac tissue. “In the end, we need to translate our findings from in vitro cell systems to being active in the patient’s actual heart in order to really improve cardiac function and make a difference for the patient,” said Qing-Dong Wang, Principal Scientist at AstraZeneca.
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