Prof. Yoshiki Sawa

Short Bio

Yoshiki Sawa is the Professor at Department of Cardiovascular Surgery, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine. Research activities include heart transplantation, artificial organs, gene and regenerative therapies. Dedication to the research led to receive numerous awards and honors, such as Japan Biomaterial Association Award, Scientific Technology Award sponsored by Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare award. He is also the President of Japanese Society of Regenerative Medicine and the President of Japanese Association for Thoracic Surgery.
Earned a medical degree from Osaka University Medical School in 1980 and joined the First Department of Surgery, Osaka University School of Medicine. In 1989, earned Humboldt scholarship to pursue further education in both the departments of cardiovascular physiology and cardiac surgery at the Max-Planck Institute in Germany. After returning to Japan, became Chief surgeon at the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery in 2004, Professor and Chief at the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery in 2006 till now. Appointed to the Dean at Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine from 2015 – March 2017.

iPS-Cardiomyocyte Sheets for Heart Failure Patients

Heart failure is a life-threatening disorder worldwide, and the current end-stage therapies for severe heart failure are replacement therapies such as ventricular-assist devices and heart transplantation. Although these therapies have been reported to be useful, there are many issues in terms of the durability, complications, limited donors, adverse effect of continuous administration of immunosuppressive agents, and high costs involved. Recently, regenerative therapy based on genetic, cellular, or tissue engineering techniques has gained attention as a new therapy to overcome the challenges encountered in transplantation medicine. We focused on skeletal myoblasts as the source of progenitor cells for autologous cell transplantation and the cell-sheet technique for site-specific implantation. In vitro studies have reported that myoblast sheets secrete cytoprotective and angiogenic cytokines such as hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). Additionally, in vivo studies using large and small animal models of heart failure, we have shown that myoblast sheets could improve diastolic and systolic performance and enhance angiogenesis and antifibrosis as well as the expression of several cytokines including HGF and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in the tissues at the transplanted site. Based on the results of these studies, we performed clinical trials using autologous myoblast sheets in ischemic cardiomyopathy (ICM) and dilated cardiomyopathy patients. Some patients showed left ventricular reverse remodeling and improved symptoms and exercise tolerance. Recently, multiple medical institutions including our institution successfully conducted an exploratory, uncontrolled, open-label phase II study in subjects with ICM to validate the efficacy and safety of autologous myoblast sheets. Thus, we could get the evidence that autologous skeletal muscle sheet might occur reverse remodeling in the responder of severe heart failure patients.