The human heart is very limited in its ability to regenerate. When heart muscle cells die due to a myocardial infarction (heart attack), for example, they are replaced only to a small extent. Instead, scar tissue forms that cannot contract and can no longer contribute to the pumping function of the heart.
This may cause terminal, i.e. end-stage, heart failure. Often, implanting a mechanical circulatory assist system or heart transplantation are the only means of saving the patient’s life.

Aims of Our Work at the BCRT

The aim of the research work at the BCRT is to develop a therapy that will enable the long-term recovery of heart muscle tissue. Studies with stem cells from bone marrow taken from the patient have, in the past, led to only modest results, since the function of these cells is often restricted. We are therefore studying the regenerative potential of stem cells from alternative sources (neonatal and induced pluripotent stem cells). How do stem cells behave when implanted into the heart muscle?

How do they affect damaged myocardium? And how can these cells differentiate? We are seeking answers to these questions. The BCRT is an alliance between the Charité and the Helmholtz Association. The group leader, Prof. Christoph Stamm, is a heart surgeon at the German Heart Center Berlin, so that the direct connection between the research work and daily clinical practice is guaranteed.