A conference in Germany this week saw international specialists gather to discuss recent discoveries in cardiac developmental biology and how such knowledge can be applied to regeneration of the heart.
Regenerative medicine is a prime example of the interdisciplinary trend in contemporary biomedical research, incorporating developmental and stem cell biology, biomaterials and tissue engineering, gene and cell therapeutic approaches. The science underpinning recent advances in tissue repair has already provided significant clinical outcomes in many organ systems, yet the challenges facing regeneration of the cardiovascular system are particularly complex. The mature mammalian heart is particularly refractory to recovery after insult, mysteriously losing the robust cardiac regenerative capacity of the embryo, which is retained by other species into adulthood.
This conference, held at EMBL headquarters in Heidelberg, discussed recent discoveries in cardiac developmental biology, compared cardiac systems across the evolutionary spectrum, and explored the fundamental barriers to cardiac self-renewal in the clinical context. International specialists also shared their latest work in this challenging field, focusing on the interface of basic and translational research.
Nadia Rosenthal from the Monash Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute
and scientific head of EMBL Australia
was the Symposium Chair, with Bob Graham from the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute together with German colleagues Didier Stainier from Max-Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics and Stefanie Dimmeler from Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main, acting as Co-Chairs.
Topics covered at the event included heart development and evolution; cardiovascular disease; heart regenerative strategies and therapeutic approaches. Delegates include developmental biologists, cardiologists, cardiac surgeons and pediatric cardiologists. Presenters from Australia included Nadia Rosenthal, Richard Harvey from Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute and Paul Simmons from Mesoblast.
This was the first meeting of what is propsed to be a biennial gathering alternating between EMBL and Australia.