Advanced research on heart function could lead to better heart health

06 November 2015
Dr June-Chiew Han
Dr June-Chiew Han

With every heartbeat, the heart traverses a pressure-volume loop and pumps blood around the body. But current methods that use tissues cut out from the heart to understand exactly how the heart ejects blood have significant limitations.

A Marsden Fund Fast-Start grant of $300,000 will focus on advanced research into heart tissue aimed at solving a number of long-standing cardiac puzzles by mimicking the pressure-volume loop using heart tissues.

The project, from the Auckland Bioengineering Institute at the University of Auckland, is led by Research Fellow June‑Chiew Han with Associate Investigators, Associate Professor Andrew Taberner and Associate Professor Denis Loiselle.

The researchers will use a unique device called a ‘work-loop calorimeter’, developed by Associate Professor Taberner, to also measure heat production as tissue contracts and relaxes.

The novel aspect of this ‘loop’ protocol is that healthy heart tissue can be viewed as if it were diseased, and a diseased heart as if it were normal. This has not been possible before and could be the key to understanding a range of heart conditions including rheumatic heart disease and the detrimental effects of high blood pressure on heart function.

It could also significantly benefit laboratory tests of new drugs to treat heart diseases.

Marsden grant funding is administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand and is allocated over three years.


For more information contact:

Anne Beston 
Media Relations Adviser, Communications, University of Auckland

Tel: +64 9 923 3258
Mobile: + 64 (0) 21 970 089