Cardiovascular regenerative medicine


Cardiovascular regenerative medicine is an exciting, fast-paced field of research that aims to restore the function of diseased and damaged cardiovascular cells through innovative methods, such as stem cell or gene therapy.

Our expertise spans from growth factors and matrices, models of myocardial infarction and limb ischemia, stem cell differentiation, tissue engineering, and novel sources of stem cells discovered within Bristol CardioVascular, to two ongoing world first surgical trials (TransACT 1 & 2), a large pre-clinical model, and a regenerative tissue bank that is in development with tissue collected during cardiac surgery.

Bristol CardioVascular is ideally placed to carry out this highly demanding type of research. It has the specialist knowledge and facilities required - plus close collaboration between basic science, clinical research and industry - in order to translate basic research findings into clinically valuable results.

A recent advance in this area has been the discovery of a potential new source of stem cells; Saphenous Vein (SV) derived pericyte precursors (SVPs).  One focus of our research is how to optimise all stages of obtaining and using SVPs in a therapeutic setting.


Research is conducted by members of the School of Clinical Sciences, the NIHR Biomedical Research Unit for Cardiovascular Disease, the Clinical Trials and Evaluation Unit, and other staff in Bristol Royal Infirmary and the BHI hospital. Pre-clinical work is carried out at the Bristol Veterinary School at Langford.


We have a long standing collaboration since 2006 with the local NHS Blood and Transplant (NHS BT) unit, where stem cells are processed under GMP conditions for our two ongoing clinical trials.  NHS BT is a Special Health Authority responsible for managing the National Blood Service, UK Transplant and Bio Products Laboratory.  It is a JACIE accredited, licensed tissue establishment that provides comprehensive services supporting autologous and allogeneic haematopoietic progenitor cell transplantation for most of the South-West.  In addition, we have a dedicated Clinical Research Imaging Centre (CRIC) with a 3T MRI for in-vivo evaluations.

Additional methods and techniques routinely used in this area of research include:

  • In vivo models of limb and myocardial ischaemia
  • Preclinical models of cell therapy and gene therapy
  • In vivo imaging of cell homing
  • In vivo imaging of perfusion recovery
  • Echocardiography
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Cell biology (including GMP upgrade of cell products)
  • Molecular biology and cell signalling


Current projects include:

  • Expansion and cryopreservation of SVPs
  • Transplantation of human SVPs in large pre-clinical model of MI
  • Transplantation of autologous SVPs in patients with refractory angina
  • Two world first ongoing surgical trials usingInjecting autologous bone marrow CD133+derived stem cells into patients with acute of chronic myocardial ischemia undergoing cardiac surgery (TransACT 1 & 2 trials – see Cardiac Surgery Section) undergoing coronary revascularization after myocardial infarction
  • Enrichment of proangiogenic cells for cardiac repair
  • Chronic inflammation and healthy ageing
  • In-vitro expansion and cardiac differentiation of cord blood progenitor cells
  • Targeting sensory neurons to restore bone marrow regenerative potential in diabetes

More information

Further details on our research can be found at:

Clinical Trials and Evaluation Unit (CTEU)

Biomedical Research Unit for Cardiovascular Disease

Professor Raimondo Ascione's research webpage

Professor Costanza Emanueli’s research web page

Professor Paolo Madeddu’s research web page

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