HHS Strategic Plan, Fiscal Years 2007–2012 (Strategic Plan). Cardiovascular Disease

11/22/2015

To improve the treatment of cardiovascular disease, NIH is working to develop and clinically apply one new imaging technique that will enable tracking the mobility of stem cells within cardiovascular tissues. Scientists are now devoting considerable effort to understanding the role of cytokine17 production by stem cells rather than focusing solely on assessing their differentiation state and location in vivo. Despite the new focus on cytokine production, the importance of understanding stem cell differentiation remains a basic, important problem in regenerative medicine. A promising new approach for assessing differentiation has recently been reported in the literature. Scientists have inserted a reporter of calcium transients into stem cells, allowing scientists to determine whether stem cells are coupled productively to the normal heart during the regeneration process. Control of differentiation will be critical for the eventual success of cardiovascular cell-based therapy. Imaging methods to detect and monitor the differentiation process are now the focus of efforts in numerous laboratories. NIH is undertaking a multimodality imaging effort to develop tools to track cardiovascular stem cells in vivo, and ultimately in patients.

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