Finding new ways to prevent and repair damage to the heart

JAX researchers are exploring the genes associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and seeking new ways to prevent and repair heart damage.

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for nearly a quarter of all fatalities and affecting people of all ages and backgrounds. 
  • After a heart attack, scar tissue replaces healthy heart tissue. This scar tissue puts added pressure on the heart, which then fails to function correctly as a pump.

JAX Research: Finding new ways to prevent and repair heart damage

Creating a paradigm shift in heart disease

Physician-scientist Travis Hinson studies inherited cardiovascular disorders, especially cardiomyopathies, diseases of the heart muscle. In his laboratory, Hinson has devised a novel system for studying the heart tissue of patients with cardiomyopathies that uses the latest in stem cell and genome editing technologies.

He transforms a patient’s skin or blood cells into heart muscle cells, creating tiny, three-dimensional structures that contract rhythmically like a full-scale heart. He then is able to study the patient’s genetic mutations and as a platform to screen and test potential treatments.

Exploring how to repair heart damage caused by heart disease

Regenerative biology pioneer Nadia Rosenthal is searching for ways to repair the heart damage inflicted by heart disease, by harnessing regenerative powers that humans lack but that abound in the animal kingdom. She imagines one day being able to turn on some kind of switch that would allow our heart muscle to regenerate as well as that of salamanders or fish.