Clinicians and researchers at the Cardiac Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) are constantly searching for answers to the great mysteries hidden in the human heart. On Nov. 12, the Cardiac Center held its first-ever Innovation Day to recognize the groundbreaking work happening every day at CHOP.
Physicians, nurses and scientists presented 10 new clinical research initiatives that could improve the lives of infants, children, teens, adults — and unborn babies — who have congenital or acquired heart conditions. Three projects were selected to receive funding to support their research.
Pulmonary Hypertension Research
Attending cardiologist David B. Frank, MD, PhD, and researcher Michael Chorny, PhD, are investigating new advances in the treatment of pulmonary hypertension, a severe disease that affects children and adults with congenital heart disorders and currently has no cure.
A collaborative cross-disciplinary team composed of experts in nano-medicine and drug delivery are collaborating to develop and test novel medications — using biological materials, chemical synthesis, and site-specific drug delivery strategies — to target pulmonary vascular disease. The focus of their research is on site-specific drug delivery strategies to enhance pulmonary vascular permeability with macro-molecular drug carriers.
Single Ventricle Disease Research
Interventional cardiologist Andrew C. Glatz, MD, and cardiac surgeon Carlo Renato G. Bartoli, MD, PhD, are conducting research to better understand the cause of vascular anomalies in children born with single ventricle heart defects. Children with single ventricle disease who undergo the Glenn procedure as a bridge to Fontan (at 3 to 5 months of age), often develop abnormal angiogenesis (development of blood vessels) and angiodysplasia (vascular malformations in the gastro-intestinal system).
Dr. Glatz and his team is investigating potential causations — and hope to eventually develop potential therapeutic interventions — by targeting specific proteins in the von Willebrand factor-angiopoietin axis, which are identified in the development of these vascular anomalies.
Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome Research
Tricuspid valve regurgitation in patients with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) is highly associated with death, and necessitates surgical intervention in more than 30 percent of patients. To maximize successful surgical outcomes, accurate assessment of the complex mechanisms of valve dysfunction are essential. While 3D modeling is available for adult valve repair and has revolutionized mitral valve surgery, there is currently no commercially or readily available method for modeling the tricuspid valve in pediatric patients with HLHS.
Matthew A. Jolley, MD, an attending anesthesiologist in the Division of Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology, is leading an effort to develop, validate and optimize 3D-based computer modeling software to visualize and quantify tricuspid valve structure in patients with HLHS. Then, by working with the CHOP cardiothoracic surgical team, Dr. Jolley wants to apply that knowledge and insight to improve tricuspid valve repair and outcomes for patients with HLHS.
Funds raised through the Cardiac Center’s Philly Spin-In are being used directly to propel this research and advance care for young patients with heart disease.