Sonja Schrepfer Receives CIRM Grant to Develop Hypo-Immunogenic Cardiac Patches for Myocardial Regeneration
Sonja Schrepfer, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director of the UCSF Transplant and Stem Cell Immunobiology (TSI) Lab, was recently awarded a grant by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to engineer a "Hypo-Immunogenic Cardiac Patches for Myocardial Regeneration".
The funding is part of CIRM’s Discovery: Inception program is for seed funding for great ideas that have the potential to impact human stem cell research, funding that will enable the researchers to test their ideas, and generate preliminary data to support for greater funding.
Dr. Schrepfer proposed the idea of engineering a hypo-immunogenic cardiac PATCH to reduce the world-wide burden of heart disease and provide an alternative to heart transplantation, currently limited by lack of suitable donor organs and tissues:
Heart disease is the number one killer in the Western world. Although heart transplant may be effective in treating heart failure, today's most urgent problem in transplantation is the lack of suitable donor organs and tissues. Generating a bioartificial heart PATCH that can help restore function of a failing heart could have a huge clinical impact. Pluripotent stem cells (PSCs), because of their ability to rapidly propagate and differentiate into all possible cell types, may be exploitable as repositories for such strategies.
However, the time for generation, validation, differentiation, and purification of iPSCs can take anywhere from weeks up to months; therefore, patient-specific iPSCs will not be readily available for acute diseases such as myocardial infarction. It will be essential that off-the-shelf cell products (e.g., iPSC-derived cardiac cells) be administered in a timely fashion within a short critical window of time. These cells, however, would not be patient specific (autologous), but rather are allogeneic and would be subject to immune rejection.
About the Transplant and Stem Cell Immunobiology (TSI) Lab
The Transplant and Stem Cell Immunobiology (TSI) Laboratory uses multiple research directions to answer complex questions about stem cell therapy, heart and lung transplantation, and cardiovascular disease. Our laboratory focuses on the immunogenicity of allogeneic stem cells, tissues, and organs, and is interested in designing methods to prevent immunological recognition and rejection of such materials.
We are also interested in better understanding and preventing mechanisms that result in cardiovascular disease. With topics that range from basic science (e.g. identifying novel molecules involved in pluripotent stem cell immunogenicity) to translational medicine (e.g. developing drugs that may be useful in reducing myointimal hyperplasia), we take a wide-angle approach to our research.