A letter from James

I’m writing to tell you about my work at QIMR Berghofer.

My research team and I are working on a project with the potential to revolutionise treatments for children born with congenital heart conditions.

It’s a ‘high risk, high reward’ project.

The sad truth is that thousands of Australian children are currently living with congenital heart diseases, with no known cure.

Did you know that congenital heart disease is the most common birth defect in Australia and affects around 1 in 100 babies?

The future is uncertain for these children. Many won’t live to see their 30th birthday, and they will likely need ongoing care throughout their short lives.

What happens for these kids is that their heart function isn’t optimal, and over time that can lead to heart failure. In many cases, this happens during childhood or adolescence. Surgical procedures can prolong the life of these children, but there is no regenerative treatment available for the heart.

Our aim is to improve the health of children living with congenital heart disease. We plan to build on some of the new concepts from other programs that focus on generating human heart  patches for adult patients with heart failure.

We are literally growing a biological patch made of stem cells, specifically designed to be surgically attached to the child’s heart. The patch will join with the heart — strengthening the wall to prevent ballooning and enhancing the pumping of the heart chamber.

It’s like adding a patch of living heart to the patient’s own heart.

There are many people involved – my team and I are collaborating with an Australia-wide team of doctors and scientists, including bioengineers, cell biologists, researchers and cardiac surgeons.

The patch is made from human cardiac muscle cells derived from pluripotent stem cells (universal cells that can produce any tissue the body needs to repair itself) in our lab at QIMR Berghofer.

We have just developed some new patches that we think are the most optimal yet, comprising of 100 million stem cells derived from beating heart cells.

We have done preliminary experiments and have successfully attached these to non-human hearts as a proof of concept.

Our federal funding for this has just finished and we are now applying for more funding to perform safety and efficacy studies. Translating the research into clinical trials could take a further 5 years.

Any funding we receive from our donors will allow us to further our progress.

There is still so much work to do!

We don’t have anywhere near enough funding to see the project through to completion at this stage, so we are so grateful of any support you can give us.

Associate Professor James Hudson
Group Leader, Cardiac Bioengineering Group
QIMR Berghofer



100% of your donation goes directly to research at QIMR Berghofer, which funds projects such as Associate Professor James Hudson’s heart research. Funding leads to discoveries in our laboratories, which lead to treatments and cures that create a healthy future for you and your loved ones.