Although stem cell therapy is promising for repairing damaged cardiac tissue and improving heart function, there are safety concerns, especially regarding the risk of arrhythmias, which can be life threatening. To address this issue, we propose to develop a novel screening system to evaluate arrhythmic risk associated with stem cell therapy using a high-throughput multielectrode array system that can measure conduction velocity and action potential duration in cardiomyocytes co-cultured with different types of stem cells, such as mesenchymal stem cells, skeletal myoblasts, and resident cardiac stem cells. We will assess the arrhythmic potential of each of these types of stem cells under normoxic and hypoxic conditions, with/without application of oxidative stress or catecholamines. We hypothesize that these methods will prove to be an effective way to screen for arrhythmic risk of cardiac stem cell therapy. Ultimately, our approach can potentially be personalized to develop a robust screening protocol in order to identify which stem cell type carries the least amount of risk for arrhythmia. This system will have great clinical benefit to improve the risk/benefit ratio of human stem cell therapy for heart disease.
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