While treatments for arterial blockages have previously been very limited, our new stem cell research is demonstrating that it’s actually possible for the body to grow new blood vessels. Not only that, these blood vessels can substantially increase blood flow.
Having successfully demonstrated this in the lab, the Cell Therapeutics Group is continuing to build an understanding of the method, which is providing hope for millions of people worldwide.
The process involves introducing blood vessel lining cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells, known as ISPCs. The ISPCs are adult skin cells ‘reprogrammed’ to become other cell types, meaning they are not embryonic stem cells taken from unborn babies. This is just some of the awe-inspiring ork taking place every day at the Heart Research Institute.
Their treatment aim is to bypass arterial blockages by stimulating new blood vessel growth, to restore blood flow to affected regions.
Born and raised in Nevada, USA, Dr Melissa Farnham originally had no interest in research. Now Unit Leader of the High Blood Pressure Group at HRI, and balancing the challenges of family and work, she couldn’t imagine any other career path.
“A career in research really gives you a sense of purpose and drive. While it can be a long and difficult path, every day you can feel satisfied that the work you do is for the greater good. And that in itself is one of the most rewarding experiences,” says Richard Tan, PhD candidate with the Applied Materials Group at HRI.
A breakthrough by HRI scientists could soon protect tens of thousands of Australians with diabetes from killer heart disease and stroke.