Virtual Research Chat: Dr. Cho
Dr. Cho is a stem cell and cardiology researcher who is part of the Wallace H. Counter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory, and Emory-Children’s Pediatric Research Center. He and his team are developing gene- and cell-based therapies for cardiac arrhythmias. Their research will add to and complement the research of several groups, such as those led by Chunhui Xu, Young-sup Yoon, Mike Davis, and W. Robert Taylor.
Before his work in Atlanta, Dr. Cho was at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he specialized in understanding cardiac pacemaker cells, a small group of muscle cells in the sinoatrial node of the heart that initiate cardiac contraction. These cells have specialized electrophysiological properties, and much has been learned in the last few years about the genes that control their development. Cho and colleagues from Cedars-Sinai published a paper describing how the gene SHOX2 can nudge embryonic stem cells into becoming cardiac pacemaker cells. The same team also published how it is possible to convert ordinary cardiac muscle cells into pacemaker cells with the introduction of a single gene (Tbx18). They have also demonstrated a gene therapy technique in pigs, in which Tbx18 created biological pacing.
Millions of Americans have received electronic cardiac pacemakers to alleviate arrhythmias. Cho and others envision the possibility that “biological pacemakers” would have advantages in terms of better responding to the body’s demands of exercise or stress, and being more flexible in size with pediatric patients. The pig gene therapy study was described as aiming to create a “bridge to device” in pacemaker-dependent patients with hardware infections.
In 2019, Dr. Cho’s research was jointly funded by The Children’s Heart Foundation and the American Heart Association.
Virtual Research Chat: Wednesday, Oct. 28, 4-6 p.m. Central
HOPE THAT KNOWS NO LIMITS: Hardware-free cardiac pacing for congenital heart block patients
Attendance is free but registration is required. To sign up, visit: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUkcuqupz4oH9H5TTwA_OW2vGIjpxteO1Lc