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Posted on: August 14, 2019 at 7:49 pm

A recent fundamental discovery by the University of Calgary may soon evolve into a new pathway for repairing damaged hearts, as they’ve since discovered a new cell with plenty of heart healing potential.

Researchers at Kubes lab, in collaboration with Fedak labs, were the first to discover a previously unidentified cell population in the pericardial fluid, found inside the sac around the heart. Now known as Gata6+, this pericardial cavity macrophage has shown the potential to heal an injured heart in mice. 

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While testing has only been completed on animal subjects, Gata6+ is also found within the human pericardium of people with injured hearts, which confirms that these repair cells may promise a new therapy for patients with heart disease. 

Up until now, heart doctors had never explored the cells which are found in the pericardium that lines the outside of the heart, and how they could actually participate in healing and repair.

This finding will likely open the door to a new healing therapy for the millions of people that suffer from heart disease. Now that we know that this pericardial fluid is rich with healing cells, there is much possibility of further discoveries that will be exciting and important for developing these modern age innovative therapies. 

Kubes and Fedak lab worked together with a cardiac surgeon, and clinical researchers identified these cells in less than 3-years, which is a rather quick timeframe to move trials from animal lab models to people.

They now hope to recruit a scientist to research a broader study focusing on human heart repair. Both the Kubes and Fedak labs have a solid foundation of support from some of UCalgary’s most generous philanthropic partners, including the Snyder, Libin and Campbell families, whose contributions over the years have allowed the researchers to bring in cutting-edge technology and talented trainees to advance their work and make a global impact on health outcomes.

“I am thankful for the support of these families for strengthening my laboratory and allowing me to successfully collaborate with a world-class scientist from the Snyder Institute. We may have invented a new field of research — immuno-cardiology!” says Fedak.

The Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada funded this University study. 

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