Alexandre Colas awarded $1.9 million for atrial fibrillation research

Alexandre Colas, Ph.D., profile photo
Alexandre Colas, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Development, Aging and Regeneration Program.

Scientist will use novel platform to identify drugs that restore normal cardiac rhythm

Sanford Burnham Prebys Assistant Professor Alexandre Colas has been awarded $1.9 million by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to discover drugs that restore normal cardiac rhythm in atrial fibrillation. The four-year award will enable Colas to use stem cell technology with a novel high-resolution screening platform to identify small molecules that have the potential to revert arrhythmias.

Atrial fibrillation is an irregular and often rapid heart rate that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. Available treatments are costly, and they have serious side effects and long-term toxicities. Today, at least 2.7 million Americans are living with atrial fibrillation. By 2030, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that 12.1 million people will have atrial fibrillation.

“We have developed a unique platform that combines atrial-like cardiomyocytes (derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells) with a high-throughput imaging system that enables us to visually measure the effects of potential atrial fibrillation drugs,” says Colas. “Our novel generation of assays gives us the ability to study changes in rhythm with single-cell resolution, with unprecedented exploratory power.

“There is a high unmet need for developing better drugs to treat atrial fibrillation,” adds Colas. “I’m grateful to the NHLBI for recognizing this need and supporting our research goals.”

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