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Three Medical Centers Awarded Funds to Study Generation of Cardiac Muscle Cells

DALLAS, April 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Heart Association, with support from the Jon Holden DeHaan Foundation, has awarded funding for three research centers to study the development and mechanisms of generating new cardiac muscle cells. Over the next four year, the centers will be conducting studies to ultimately determine how regeneration of those cells can help improve outcomes for heart attack and heart failure patients.

The grants total $6 million and have been awarded to the following facilities, each to become home to an American Heart Association-Jon Holden DeHaan Foundation Cardiac Myogenesis Research Center:

  • University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Penn. - Center Director: Jonathan Epstein, M.D.
  • University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas - Center Director: Eric Olson, Ph.D.
  • University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn. - Center Director: Doris Taylor, Ph.D.

Each center will undertake a number of basic science research projects specifically looking at cardiac myocytes, or heart cell muscles, to learn more about how those cells biologically develop, integrate and work. Ideally, findings from this research will lead to new ways for treating various forms of heart disease, including heart attacks, congenital heart disease and heart failure.

Some of the research will focus on developing methods to identify stems cells from the heart or other organs, such as bone marrow, to give back to the patient in a way that will sustain long-lasting recovery of cardiac function. The research will build the foundation for future use of adult stem cells for regenerating and repairing heart muscle, as well as for developing new therapies and drugs in the fight against heart disease.

These awards are effective April 1, 2009, and will be funded through March 31, 2012.

The Jon Holden DeHaan Foundation, of Naples, Fla., has a long history of funding American Heart Association cardiovascular research and cumulatively has contributed almost $5 million to the association for this purpose. The American Heart Association-Jon Holden DeHaan Foundation Cardiac Myogenesis Research Center Program is the most ambitious partnership undertaken by the two organizations to-date.

SOURCE American Heart Association
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