Devices that can perform the function of the heart are a triumph of artificial organ technology, and UPMC is a world leader in their use. Our artificial heart team helps people survive the long wait for a donor heart, helps sustain others who are not candidates for a heart transplant, and has even used these devices to help people recover from heart failure — making transplantation unnecessary. We're working on other solutions to heart failure, too.
In the laboratory of McGowan Institute director William Wagner, PhD, researcher Antonio D’Amore, PhD, is engineering synthetic materials for implantation in patients suffering from tissue and organ insufficiencies. Targeted clinical applications for this work are cardiac patches and heart valves.
Read more about modeling tissue engineered constructs.
The disease associated with the bicuspid aortic valve (BAV) is the primary focus of the research team of McGowan Institute affiliated faculty members Thomas Gleason, MD, and Julie Phillippi, PhD. BAV is the most common congenital cardiac malformation, occurring in 1-2% of the population. Dr. Gleason’s clinical practice has been devoted to improving care for BAV patients and this goal will be achieved in part through his basic science research efforts toward understanding the inciting cellular and molecular mechanisms of medial degeneration and biomechanical failure of the ascending aortic wall in BAV patients.
McGowan Institute faculty member David Vorp, PhD, and McGowan Institute colleagues Steven Little, PhD, William Wagner, PhD, and Justin Weinbaum, PhD, are investigating artificial stem cells in the development of tissue-engineered vascular grafts (TEVGs). The study, entitled “Artificial Stem Cells for Vascular Tissue Engineering,” aims to accelerate the clinical translation of the team’s TEVG technology.
Read more about fabrication of vascular grafts with artificial stem cells.
Also, Dr. Vorp along with McGowan Institute faculty members J. Peter Rubin, MD, and William Wagner, PhD, are exploring research into the use of cells from a patient’s own adipose (fat) as vascular grafts in arterial bypass surgery. This new method, which has been successful in preclinical trials, would allow surgeons to perform bypass surgeries without harvesting arteries or veins from the patient or requiring the time to isolate and grow a specific cell type, such as a stem cell.
Read more about this research grant.