I have been researching now with the kind support of The Baird Institute for just over a year and have sincerely enjoyed my time thus far. As microscopic analyses are my forte, I have been helping across multiple research projects by imaging cardiac tissue at high magnifications using specific fluorescent markers, as well as performing complex 3-dimensional imaging techniques. This has allowed me to identify the presence of different proteins in both diseased and healthy heart tissue. Furthermore, it has allowed us to discover new insight into the heart’s ability to regenerate and repair itself following a heart attack (aka myocardial infarction). With multiple publications on the precipice of submission to highly respected scientific journals, we hope to share our findings in more detail with you all soon!
Another exciting project I am working on currently involves keeping slices of fresh human heart tissue alive and beating! For this project, Baird associated surgeons perform surgery to remove excess tissue from patients with overgrown hearts (hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy). This unwanted tissue is then transported to the lab, sliced, and kept in an incubator with special equipment that periodically electrically stimulates the tissue. This new equipment allows us to analyse the tissues’ ability to contract over time and allows us to test exciting new therapeutics for the treatment of heart failure.
All research requires funding to get started. This is why I am excited to announce that a third project, involving the development of flexible biodegradable blood vessel replacements, has received a prestigious Vangard research grant award from the Heart Foundation. Starting in 2024, in collaboration with a world-leading biomaterials engineer Professor Tony Weiss, we will be synthesising and testing cutting-edge blood vessel replacements. Currently, synthetic materials used to replace smaller vessels are too rigid and prone to blockages. Using naturally derived elastic proteins interwoven into a biodegradable polymer, our vessels will be flexible, resistant to blockages and will undergo slow natural degradation, whilst simultaneously encouraging the body to slowly repair itself. In short, these biodegradable replacements aim to substitute damaged vessels, degrade and form new healthy vessel tissue. This research could help the millions of patients who suffer from diseased or damaged vessels, allowing them to rebuild their own vessels with the help of our biodegradable replacement.
I would like to thank all the wonderful supporters of The Baird Institute for helping us undertake such exciting and groundbreaking research.