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Alessandra Moretti receives ERC Advanced Grant

Alessandra Moretti is using organoids to find new ways to repair the human heart. The European Research Council (ERC) will fund her project in the future with a highly endowed ERC Advanced Grant. | © Daniel Delang / TUM

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The European Research Council (ERC) has announced the names of 255 outstanding researcher leaders in Europe set to be awarded ERC Advanced Grants: Professor Alessandra Moretti works in Munich and is a Principal Investigator at the DZHK. She will receive one of the grants of up to 2.5 million euros. The EU funding is aimed at established researchers who have achieved outstanding results over the past ten years and whose research could lead to scientific breakthroughs. A total of 1,829 researchers applied for the grants.

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After birth, humans cannot any longer repair damage to the heart muscle. However, animals such as zebrafish are able to do so. In the EPICURE project, a team led by Alessandra Moretti wants to decode the mechanisms of heart development in humans and use them for new therapies. The researchers are relying on specially developed cardiac organoids called epicardioids. These three-dimensional cell structures can be used to simulate the development of the human heart in the culture dish. The researchers are especially interested in the role of the epicardium, the outer layer of cells covering the heart. During embryonic development, these cells emit signals that control the development of the organ. The scientists hope to use their findings to develop new therapeutic approaches for heart disease based on gene modulation by CRISPR-Cas technology.

Alessandra Moretti is Professor of Regenerative Medicine of Cardiovascular Disease. Her research has already been funded with an ERC Advanced Grant. The epicardiods are a result of this project.

Source: Press release of the Technical University of Munich and the European Research Council