We focus on understanding the mechanisms of 1) electrical activation & propagation and 2) cellular development & homeostasis in the healthy heart and on how these processes are disrupted in the diseased heart. The purpose of doing so is to use this knowledge for the development of novel, biology-driven therapeutics for human cardiac disease, especially heart rhythm disturbances. Here, one of the main goals is to allow the heart itself to detect and neutralize pathological processes through an integrative approach covering various aspects of biology, mathematics, engineering and medicine. Realization of this vision would give rise to, for example, the Biologically-Integrated Cardiac Defibrillator (Bio-ICD): a heart that is now able to rapidly detect and terminate arrhythmias fully on its own.
Ultimately, we believe that our efforts will help to provide a sustainable and comprehensive improvement in the prospects of cardiac health through synthetic biomedicine.
To achieve these goals, different strategies and techniques are employed, but of special interest is the use of viral and cellular vectors for tailored modification of specific transcriptional and cellular processes. A schematic overview of our approach is shown below.