Nearly a million people in the UK are living with heart failure, often a long-term consequence of damage caused by a heart attack. After a heart attack, the heart often fails to form adequate new blood vessels to fully heal.
Associate Professor Sarah De Val and Dr Alice Neal have been studying the pathways regulating the formation and differentiation of vein and lymphatic vessel in both development, and after a heart attack or other tissue damage. Not only are venous and lymphatic endothelial cells crucial for the correct function of the circulatory system, they can also be used as building blocks for other types of vessels.
Dr Joaquim Vieira is studying cells of the epicardium, the outer layer of the heart, which are vital to normal heart development, including the growth and maturation of coronary blood vessels, the myocardial (heart muscle) layer and cardiac valves. If we can understand how epicardial cells contribute to these processes, we can better understand what goes wrong, not only in adult heart disease, but also in congenital heart disease in children.