iRhythmics: Programming pacemaker cells for in vitro drug testing

The project addresses the generation and establishment of programmed pacemaker cells for an in vitro-drug testing possibility to perform predictive tests. This may lead to an improved treatment of cardiac arrhythmias or an accurate identification of potential drug molecules at an early stage of development. Important benefits will arise in verifying the safety of a wide variety of medicines while reducing animal testing.

iRhythmics/P3 – Cellular reprogramming into pacemaker cells through viral vectors and their functional characterization

This grant is meant to improve within the funding period the professional qualifications of talented junior scientists by executing an excellent scientific program within research associations.

Within Subproject P3 it is intended to establish direct reprogramming of murine and human cardiomyocytes towards cardiac pacemaker cells by lentivirus-derived vectors. Furthermore, lentiviral vectors will be utilized as tools towards forward-programming of induced pluripotent stem cells. As proof-of-principle in the framework of this project, in vitro transduction will take place via polycistronic lentiviral vectors bearing expression cassettes each consisting of one marker and one transcription factor gene. By means of these vectors, optimized combinations of programming factors will be channeled into the cells to be reprogrammed, initially with known transcription factors.

Project Head (P3)

Prof. Brigitte Pützer M.D., Ph.D.
Rostock University Medical Center
Institute of Experimental Gene Therapy and Cancer Research

Research Partners

Prof. Olaf Wolkenhauer
University of Rostock
Department of Systems Biology and Bioinformatics

Prof. Heinrich Brinkmeier
University Hospital Greifswald
Institute of Pathophysiology

Dr. Andreas Höflich
Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology Dummerstorf
Department of Signal Transduction, Institute for Genome Biology

Prof. Robert David
University Hospital Rostock
Reference and Translation Center for Cardiac Stem Cell Therapy

The data is managed in FairdomHub

This project is funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) program of the European Union (ESF/14-BM-A55-0026/18).


Institute of Experimental Gene Therapy and Cancer Research
Core-Facility Viral Vector & Genome-Editing Technologies
Biomedical Research Center
Schillingallee 69
D-18057 Rostock


Ingrid Winkler
    (+49) 381 494-5066
    (+49) 381 494-5062
Department Life, Light & Matter
Research Building LL&M
Albert-Einstein-Str. 25
D-18059 Rostock