Biological Pacemaker


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A long-term partnership with Boston Scientific has enabled faculty researchers at SUNY Stony Brook and Columbia University, to develop cell based biological pacemakers that will someday replace existing electronic pacemaker devices and optimize the therapeutic approach to cardiac pacing. SUNY Stony Brook’s Director of the Institute for Molecular Cardiology, Dr. Ira Cohen and Dr. Peter Brink, Chairman of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics have teamed with Columbia University’s Director of the Center for Molecular Therapeutics, Dr. Michael Rosen and Columbia Professor of Pharmacology Dr. Richard Robinson to develop a gene and cell based biological pacemaker that varies the heart’s beats to fit an individual body’s needs, as required during variations in exercise or emotion. This ground breaking technology utilizes a family of genes responsible for natural pacemaking that were packaged and delivered to the heart using adult human mysenchymal stem cells or a viral vector. The engineered stem cells, when placed in a localized region of the heart, electrically communicate directly with the surrounding endogenous heart tissue. This interaction stimulates the heart and generates a heartbeat similar to that of the heart's natural pacemaker. The viral vector/gene therapy approach uses the same pacemaker genes and results in the ectopic expression in endogenous cardiac muscle cells. These cells integrate the gene construct into the heart's natural electrical circuitry and produce an outcome similar to that generated by the stem cells. Boston Scientific’s commitment to the development and optimization of innovative cardiac treatments has resulted in numerous patented technologies created by the collaborative efforts of The New York State Research Foundation, researchers from SUNY Stony Brook’s Department of Physiology and Biophysics and Columbia University’s Department of Pharmacology.
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