The Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) is a research program with the goal of delaying or preventing heart failure for individuals with HLHS.

To learn more or to participate, please visit our website or contact HLHS@mayo.edu.

Follow the program on Facebook at Mayo Clinic HLHS, on Twitter @MayoClinicHLHS, and on Instagram at MayoClinicHLHS.

Feb 10, 2016

Pioneering New Research Options for Congenital Heart Defects

By Suzanne R. Ferguson, @suzannerferguson

Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) Awareness Week gives us a great opportunity to share and discuss some of the research taking place at the Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for HLHS. It is important to raise awareness of CHDs and to also recognize the ever-evolving treatment options that are changing the future for people with these heart conditions. HLHS heart high res The goal of our program is to find ways to delay and prevent heart transplants for those with congenital heart defects. To accomplish this goal, we are taking a multifaceted approach to research. This approach includes:

Cell-Based Treatments

Our program is using regenerative medicine to help grow the heart muscle in people with HLHS. These cell-based therapies are currently being developed and could restore the pumping function of the right ventricle once it begins to decline or prevent the decline altogether. We currently have open clinical trials that offer the latest advancements in cell therapy to people with HLHS. These clinical trials vary by age and treatment. For more information, view a list of the studies or email us at HLHS@mayo.edu.

Imaging and Outcomes

Every day, our program’s physicians and researchers are studying the long-term effects of single-ventricular performance in people with HLHS. By comparing the medical histories of HLHS patients using ultrasound and MRI images, they are able to noninvasively detect the heart’s performance. These imaging tools help determine a possible decline in heart function as early as possible in order to better manage treatment options.

Human Genetics

While researchers believe HLHS can be attributed to a genetic cause, specific genes have not yet been identified. Investigators in our program are looking at whole genome sequencing and bioinformatics analyses to search for HLHS genetic variations. To do this, they rely on family research participants to study each family’s genomes.

If you are interested in learning more about our work in these many areas, contact us at HLHS@mayo.edu. We are always happy to answer any questions you may have about our program!

Don’t forget to keep sending us pictures of your heart heroes on social media!


The Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) is a collaborative network of specialists bonded by the vision of delaying or preventing heart failure for individuals affected by congenital heart defects including HLHS. The specialized team is addressing the various aspects of these defects by using research and clinical strategies ranging from basic science, to diagnostic imaging to regenerative therapies.
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