Patients at Riley Children’s Health are benefitting from a new, first-of-its-kind study surrounding coarctation of the aorta, a common congenital heart defect in babies.
Earning a Discovery Award of $200,000 granted by the Department of Defense, a pediatric cardiologist at Riley Children’s is working alongside the Indiana University School of Medicine to improve cardiovascular developments in children.
The diagnosis, which is a narrowing of the aorta that disrupts blood flow to the body, affects a child’s normal development process and requires invasive surgery, according to Benjamin Landis, MD, pediatric cardiologist at Riley Children’s. He will collaborate with IU School of Medicine to analyze the immediately life-threatening condition.
The study will use single-cell RNA sequencing of aortic tissues that are removed from infants who have received cardiothoracic surgery for coarctation of the aorta. From there, results aim to learn more about the cells that make up the defect to develop new treatment options aside from surgery.
“There is evidence that even an excellent surgical repair does not cure the patient of long-term cardiovascular risks,” Dr. Landis said. “Single-cell RNA sequencing is a technology that can measure gene expression levels in each individual cell,” and in addition, “is well-suited for studying coarctation, which often has complex geometrical structures and contains multiple different types of cells in the tissue.”
Likewise, determining the pathobiology in the early stages of the disease will avoid development of cardiovascular diseases or recurrence of coarctation of the aorta altogether, according to Dr. Landis, given the study will identify the target infants who are most capable of undergoing early interventions.
“This could be the first step toward a more complete understanding of the disease processes that are active in neonates and help us identify treatments to prevent chronic comorbidities and avoid future need for interventions. The Department of Defense Discovery Award funding is pivotal for us to be able to embark on this exciting research,” Dr. Landis added.
The U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity, 820 Chandler Street, Fort Detrick MD 21702-5014 is the awarding and administering acquisition office.
This work was supported by The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs endorsed by the Department of Defense, in the amount of $317,000, through the Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program under Award Number HT9425-23-1-0009.
*Opinions, interpretations, conclusions, and recommendations contained herein are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily endorsed by the Department of Defense