Texas Heart Institute Receives Grant from the Harry S. Moss Heart Trust

HOUSTON – (March 2, 2022) – Camila Hochman-Mendez, PhD, and the Texas Heart Institute (THI) have been awarded a grant from the Harry S. Moss Heart Trust, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee. The award will support a collaboration between THI and the University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW) Medical Center investigating whether the biomimetic laminin polymer called polylaminin improves cardiac function in a mouse model of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF). The funding will be used to test whether polylaminin reduces titin-based cardiomyocyte stiffness and systemic inflammation in HFpEF mice. Furthermore, it will allow researchers to elucidate the signaling pathways involved in this interaction.


Heart failure is the primary cause of death in approximately 1 in 8 Americans. Currently, more than 50% of all patients with heart failure have HFpEF, which tends to be more common in older individuals, women, and those with associated conditions such as high blood pressure, kidney disease, diabetes, and obesity. “Clinicians have limited treatment options for HFpEF. The prevalence, morbidity, and mortality of this condition call for us to develop novel, innovative approaches for this large patient population,” stated Joseph Rogers, MD, President, and CEO of THI.


The new project leverages established collaborative relationships to bring a new scientific angle to HFpEF research. Dr. Hochman-Mendez’s approach to HFpEF is based on her detailed molecular understanding of heart tissue’s structure and the factors that play a role in the cardiac stiffness associated with the disease. She developed in-depth knowledge of polylaminin biology while under the mentorship of Tatiana Coelho-Sampaio, PhD, a polylaminin expert who first described the molecule’s synthesis and structure.


Dr. Hochman-Mendez will cooperate closely with Bruno da Rocha-Azevedo, PhD, Laboratory Director at the Jaqaman Lab at UTSW Medical Center. They previously worked together on an extracellular matrix-related project in the laboratory of Antonio Campos de Carvalho, MD, PhD, at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.  “The extracellular matrix of a tissue provides both a structural scaffold for cells and important cues for their development and function, so this shared expertise will directly benefit these HFpEF studies,” said Dr. Hochman-Mendez.


The project is both a national and international collaboration, as the team will work with Henk L. Granzier, PhD, at the University of Arizona, who will share a mouse model of HFpEF for the studies. The team will also use UTSW’s specialized microscopy facility for live cellular imaging.  This super-resolution technology enables the detection of molecular interactions between the extracellular matrix proteins.


By Nicole Stancel



Using Polylaminin to Improve Cardiac Function in a Murine Model of Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction (HFpEF)


Camila Hochman-Mendez, PhD, Principal Investigator, Director of Regenerative Medicine Research at THI

Ernesto Curty da Costa, MD, PhD, Co-Investigator, Research Scientist in the Organ Repair, Regeneration & Research Laboratory in the Regenerative Medicine Research Department at THI


Bruno da Rocha-Azevedo, PhD, Laboratory Director of the Jaqaman Lab at UTSW Medical Center

Khuloud Jaqaman, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biophysics at UTSW Medical Center

Henk L. Granzier, PhD, Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Arizona Health Sciences




The Texas Heart Institute, founded by world-renowned cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Denton A. Cooley in 1962, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the devastating toll of cardiovascular disease through innovative and progressive programs in research, education, and improved patient care. THI’s scientists and physicians conduct fundamental biomedical, translational, and clinical research in cardiology, cardiovascular surgery, molecular-based medicine, stem cell, and gene therapy, and regenerative medicine both independently and in collaboration with organizations worldwide. As a global leader of patient care for nearly six decades, Texas Heart Institute has been ranked among the top cardiovascular centers in the United States by U.S. News & World Report for the past 30 years. THI is dedicated to spreading awareness and sharing updates on ways to prevent, treat and defeat the cardiovascular disease. With over 10 million visitors coming to its website from around the world every year, www.texasheart.org is just one of the ways THI is helping to educate people on the importance of heart health. For more information, please visit https://www.texasheart.org. @Texas_Heart