When a patient shows symptoms of cancer, a biopsy is taken…But the same can’t be done for heart disease, the leading cause of death among Americans. Not until now.
Hinson engineers heart-like structures with cells containing specific genetic mutations in order to study the genetics of cardiomyopathies, diseases of the heart muscle that can lead to heart failure and, ultimately, death.
“We basically try to rebuild a little piece of a patient’s heart in a dish,” says Hinson….
With his “heart-in-a-dish” technique, [Hinson] and his team are now unraveling the effects of genetic mutations on cardiac biology.
The system harnesses multiple recent advances in both stem cell and genome editing technologies. With these capabilities, Hinson and his colleagues can isolate skin or blood cells directly from cardiomyopathy patients and coax them to form heart muscle cells, making it possible to study the biological effects of patients’ own mutations. Moreover, he can correct those mutations, or create additional ones, to further probe how genetic differences influence heart biology.
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