Oxstem Cardio aims to identify a new class of drugs that will stimulate resident cardiac precursor cells to increase cardiac muscle regeneration and improve functional recovery following myocardial infarction (MI).
Current heart disease treatments focus on preventative measures, however Oxstem Cardio will be seeking drug therapies that will significantly improve the long-term prognosis post-MI. Improving functional recovery will result from stimulating a repair mechanism to regenerate tissue damaged during the myocardial infarct.
It has been shown that endogenous epicardial cells treated with thymosin β4 migrate and differentiate into cardiomyocytes in situ following injury (Smart et al. Nature 2011, 474, 640). This however, represents only a limited regenerative capacity and is not sufficient to reduce the incidence of further heart problems and loss of heart functionality.
Oxstem Cardio aims to develop drugs to initiate a similar response pathway, but with the use of small molecules, which promise much greater stimulatory affects. This treatment would have the potential to positively impact a medical emergency that affects around 50,000 men and 32,000 women each year in England alone.