A team of researchers from the Cardiovascular Diseases group at Vall d'Hebron Research Institute, led by Dr. Javier Inserte, is working together with the Institute of Advanced Chemistry of Catalonia (IQAC-CSIC) -which leads the project- and Johns Hopkins University on the PhotoHeart project to optimize post-infarction reperfusion therapy by administering drugs that are controlled by light and activated only in the affected area, which would improve the prognosis of patients.
The usual treatment after a heart attack is reperfusion therapy, i.e., reopening of the blocked coronary artery to restore blood flow. This procedure has been successful in greatly reducing patient mortality. However, many survivors end up with large areas of infarction that compromise long-term cardiac function.
The PhotoHeart project aims to provide early and localized treatment at the time of reperfusion therapy to significantly reduce cardiac tissue damage, thereby increasing patient recovery and minimizing the occurrence of future cardiac complications. To this end, a photopharmacological therapy is being developed that will make it possible to administer light-controlled drugs and activate them only in the area most affected by reperfusion therapy by hooking a light device to the catheter used to open the arteries.
The main objectives of PhotoHeart are:
- The design and characterization of a family of light-controlled drugs that can restore normal functioning of heart muscle cells, also called cardiomyocytes.
- The in vitro evaluation of these drugs in cardiomyocyte cell cultures and in animal models (mice).*
- The design and manufacture of cardiac catheters and control systems for intracoronary illumination.
- In vivo evaluation of the light delivery catheters, as well as validation of the efficacy of the system during reperfusion in animal models (pig).*
The researchers of the Cardiovascular Diseases group at VHIR who are part of the PhotoHeart project are Dr. Javier Inserte, co-IP of the project, Dr. Marisol Ruiz Meana, Dr. Antonio Rodriguez Sinovas, Dr. Neus Bellera, Dr. José A. Barrabés and Dr. Diana Bou Teen.
Their role will be very active in the phases of in vitro and in vivo study of the physiological effects of NCX inhibition in cardiomyocyte cell cultures as well as in experimental conditions of simulated ischemia and reperfusion; the evaluation of intracardiac catheters and light parameters in an animal model (pig) that reproduces the clinical conditions of a coronary angioplasty; the evaluation of the efficacy of the overall system and the validation of the protocol first in different pig models.
PhotoHeart was one of the projects selected for the "la Caixa" Foundation's Caixa Research call for Health Research 2021.
*Institutional Declaration on the Use of Animals in Research