Posted 2 June 2023

Weary Dunlop Foundation supports ‘heart in a dish’ research
Dr Jarmon Lees

Dr Jarmon Lees has been awarded a Weary Dunlop Foundation grant to further his work on identifying new treatments for heart attack in people undergoing cancer treatment.

The heart is a complex organ made up of a mix of different cell types, including heart muscle and blood vessel cells, as well as nerve cells that control heart rate and rhythm so in order to test possible treatments, Dr Lees and his team will grow “hearts in a dish” from stem cells.

“We ‘wind the clock back’ by turning cells from an adult back into stem cells. We can then apply different conditions to coax these stem cells to form all the different cells which make up the heart,” Dr Lees explained.

After making the different cell types, the researchers combine the cells together in a dish in the lab. After as little as a few days, the cells form an organoid that beats rhythmically.

“Heart disease is a serious health concern to veterans, their families, and the Defence Force. My goal is to use these ‘hearts in a dish” to test a potential new, life saving treatment,” he said.