The Cardiothoracic Surgery Research Program is divided into three major sections:
Cell Biology Section
The cell based therapy section is focused on the cell-based regenerative therapy for myocardial ischemia using adult bone-marrow derived stem/progenitor cells in swine models. The gene profiling of stem cells before and after transplantation was also studied to define the expression pathways. Transgenic GFP stem cells were used to trace the fate and differentiation after transplantation. In addition to adult stem cell study, we are also interested in exploring the potential usage of embryonic stem cells or induced pluripotent stem cells in myocardial regenerative therapy. Following animal studies, we plan to perform clinical trial to test the effect of direct intra-myocardial injection of autologous bone marrow-derived stem cells on patients underwent revascularization for CAD with depressed left ventricular function.
The mission of the bioengineering section is to investigate novel minimally invasive cardiac surgical procedures for heart dysfunction. Specifically, we will develop and apply engineering technologies on devices, imaging, robotics, along with surgical techniques to achieve state-of-art minimally invasive cardiac surgeries. Our goal is to deliver minimally invasive cardiac surgical procedures to clinical application. By improving precision and consistency, the novel procedures will improve clinical outcomes, and increase the efficiency of health care delivery. Procedures of interest are aortic valve replacement (AVR), mitral valve replacement and repair (MVR), Transmyocardial Laser Revascularization (TMR), Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG), etc. The current topic focuses on the beating heart aortic valve replacement.
The success of organ transplantation is limited by the shortage of donor organs. This discrepancy in demand versus availability leads to death of thousands waiting for human organs. Despite of awareness to organ donation, we will never be able to eliminate this huge gap between donor organ availability and its requirement. Mechanical devices, though helpful, fail to provide a long-term solution to the end stage organ failure. Xenotransplantation, the use of no-human organs for transplantation, may provide a permanent answer to this problem. For xenotransplantation, pigs are chosen as potential organ donors due to anatomical similarity of its organs to human organs, less ethical issues due to its prevalent use in human food chain, short breeding cycle and known genetic map for modification. Unfortunately at the immunological level pigs differ from humans a great deal. A pig heart for example will reject in humans within minutes. To overcome this hurdle our laboratory and others are testing pigs with several genetic modifications which will enable us to use pig organs deficient in genes harmful to humans and at the same time expressing human molecules to prevent graft rejection. With these modifications we are not only "humanizing" the pig but hopefully in future will also be limiting the lethal side effects of heavy immunosuppression currently required for organ transplantation, by limiting its use.