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Areas of Research

The Baylor Heart and Vascular Institute conducts many cardiac research projects to help advance the detection and treatment of heart and vascular conditions. Among these are:

Cardiomyopathy
Baylor researchers are participating in the Surgical Treatment of Ischemic Heart Failure (STICH) Trial funded by the National Institutes of Health. This trial will determine whether coronary artery bypass grafting surgery improves long-term survival compared to medical therapy. It will also determine whether a surgical procedure to restore normal left ventricular shape and size (surgical ventricular restoration) in patients with temporary paralysis of the front heart wall will improve long-term survival compared to the bypass grafting surgery or medical therapy without the surgical ventricular restoration. The Baylor Health Care System Foundation has also provided a grant to fund a study of direct myocardial injection of stem cells to treat ischemia.

Functional and Mitral Regurgitation (MR) in ischemic cardiomyopathy
Baylor researchers are also participating in a NIH-funded study to examine the causes of functional mitral regurgitation (MR), a condition where the mitral valve fails to close completely during cardiac contraction during ischemic heart failure. Baylor University Medical Center will serve as the core laboratory for analysis of the transesophageal echocardiogram studies done as part of the STICH trial.

Another research project is not yet to the clinical trials stage but has shown promise in new ways to deliver gene therapy:

Gene therapy using ultrasound targeted microbubble destruction (UTMD)
Baylor's laboratory has developed a technique that uses ultrasound-targeted microbubble destruction (UTMD) to deliver drugs or genes to specific tissues, including the heart, pancreas, kidney and brain. This involves the attachment of drugs or genes to gas-filled microbubbles, which are circulated through the intravascular space and mechanically destroyed within the target organ by ultrasound.

Baylor researchers have also successfully targeted reporter genes to pancreatic islets, using the rat insulin promoter to achieve a high level of islet specificity, as well as conferring regulation of islet gene expression by glucose feeding of the animals. They now propose to extend this work to a naturally occurring animal model of islet cell destruction - the Zucker Diabetic Fatty (ZDF) rat.


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