Collaborations and Other Cardiovascular Research
The Heart Center is working with the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine to engineer heart valves that will be perfect matches for patients needing valve replacement surgery. The process begins with a pig valve.
Cells are removed, leaving support materials or a scaffold. Patients’ cells drawn from a blood sample and multiplied in the laboratory are placed on the scaffold, which is put in a bioreactor to exercise the valve and allow it to function as a human heart valve.
Lawrence L. Rudel, PhD, professor of pathology and biochemistry at Wake Forest Baptist, is the principal investigator of a $9 million grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to continue research in the development of atherosclerosis. Rudel led the research team that determined that an enzyme (ACAT2) found only in the liver and intestine may play a crucial role in the development of atherosclerosis.
This renewed grant continues that work. Confirmation of the relationship between the enzyme and low-density lipoproteins (LDL) may point to a new way of treating hardening of the arteries.
A nine-year, $114 million study called the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) is being coordinated at Wake Forest Baptist, which will receive about $49.3 million of the funding. The principal investigator is David Reboussin, PhD, a professor of biostatistical sciences.
SPRINT, which is being conducted at 80 clinical sites in the US, will evaluate whether more aggressive blood pressure control slows the development of cardiovascular and kidney diseases. The study is funded by the NHLBI and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).