In vitro disease modelling
Studying the stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes from normal people and from patients with heart disease.
We have a wide range of advanced microscopical methods for studying live cardiomyocytes, which have been developed for the study of adult human cells. These include methods to measure beating force and amplitude; electrical signals from the cells and fluorescent tracking of calcium movements or intracellular signalling events. We have adapted the microscopical techniques for use with the stem cell-cardiomyocytes, and so are able to compare them with adult cardiomyocytes from patients and animals. Since the stem cells begin as immature cardiomyocytes, this enables us to find ways to make them mature to an adult form. We can generate large numbers of stem cell-cardiomyocytes, so we have developed a suite of methods for scaling up investigations using multiple measurements. Stem cell cardiomyocytes from patients can show similar defects to those seen in the whole heart, enabling us to use them as a disease-in-a-dish for exploring mechanisms and testing drugs.