Tissue Engineering

Overview

Cardiac tissue engineering promises to deliver new methods for repairing damaged myocardium following infarction and regenerating diseased myocardium resulting from maladaptive cardiac hypertrophy. We also envision that creating disease models in vitro will aid in understanding cardiac disease progression and pathophysiology. Further, this approach represents a way to simply and rapidly screen new cardiac pharmaceuticals to speed-up the drug discovery process, accelerating the time-to-market for new therapies.

Multiscale coupling in three dimensions remains a key problem in cardiac tissue engineering. Myocardium is a highly specialized tissue type requiring structure-function relationships to be preserved from ion channels and sarcomeres at the nano/micro scales to tissue and organ level function at the macroscale. Our research is focused in on engineering the cellular microenvironment to control myogenesis from the “bottom-up.” In other words, controlling assembly at the single-cell level combined with organized cell-cell organization and self-assembly through the tissue, organ and whole organism levels.

Muscular Thin Films

Primary Investigator: Adam W. Feinberg, Ph.D.

Muscular thin films (MTFs) are a biohybrid material that integrates a tissue engineered monolayer of cardiac muscle cells with a thin, elastic film. This biotic-abiotic composite combines advantages of both materials; mainly excellent contractile strength, spatial control of cell alignment from the micrometer to centimeter length scales and superb handling characteristics that allow the near limitless formation of different shapes. We have demonstrated that MTFs can be used to fabricate a variety of muscle powered actuators and devices. These “soft robotic” applications are an exciting proof-of-concept demonstration of how muscle can be utilized as a material for building many things. Just like muscle is the universal actuator in most large animals, muscle has the same potential to be used to power engineered systems where no synthetic alternative is available. See our Science paper on this topic.

Clinical applications remain the ultimate goal for MTFs where the ability to closely match wild-type (natural) muscle structure and function provides key advantages. First, the MTF can be used as a simple, biomechanical in vitro model for a laminar layer of the ventricular wall. While regenerating an entire heart likely lies many decades off in the future, we can build a single layer of the ventricle right now. Second, we are building MTFs that mimic both healthy and cardiomyopathic myocardium, evaluating the structural and functional differences between the two. Third, we are using these in vitro systems to evaluate drug effects on contractility to determine both toxicity and efficacy of current and future therapeutic compounds.

Vascular Smooth Muscle MTFs

The role of vascular smooth muscle (VSM) is an important area of research for diseases ranging from heart attack and stroke to traumatic brain injury. MTFs can be built using VSM instead of cardiomyocytes, producing a powerful platform for in vitro studies of structure-function relationships in VSM pathophysiology. Current efforts are aimed at better understanding the mechanism behind vasospasm following subarachnoid hemorrhage and traumatic brain injury. This will serve as a test-bed for screening new therapeutic compounds as well as learning how current treatment paradigms affect VSM contractility.

Grp_photo_Jan 2014_305W_230H

What's New

Farewell Jack! June 16th, 2017

The DBG would like to wish Jack Zhou all the best as he leaves us for his next adventure – Medical School. Congratulations Jack!

The DBG welcomes the Orientation and Reach-Back Training class of the U.S. Army May 22nd, 2017

The DBG had the pleasure of hosting the Orientation and Reach-Back Training (ORBT) training class of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) Field Assistance in Science and Technology (FAST) program on May 17, 2017. ORBT is a multi-week mission overview program for senior-level Army officers, non-commissioned officers and Department of the Army civilians on the mechanisms for identifying and resolving technology capability gaps for units in their area of operation. The class visit to Professor (Lieutenant Colonel, Reserves) Parker’s Lab is their only visit to a Lab outside the Department of Defense.

The class met with DBG veterans and attended presentations on Stronger, Tougher, and Lighter Soldier Protection Systems; Nanofiber Scaffolds for Wound Healing/Dressings; Traumatic Brain Injury – Understanding Disease Mechanisms; Fibrous Scaffolds for Tissue Engineered Foods; Cells as Engineering Materials – the Cyborg Ray Project; Cuttlefish Inspired Camouflage; and our unique program for embedding Artists-In- Residence in the Lab.

Guests included members from the U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command (RDECOM); U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC); U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Army Research Laboratory; and RDECOM Research, Development and Engineering Centers.

Pictured below are (clockwise from bottom left): DBG Artist-in- Residence Karaghen Hudson (Harvard Class of 2018); Ms. Valerie Carney (ERDC); Dr. Aimee Poda (ERDC); Dr. (Colonel, Reserves) Steve Hart (RDECOM); Veteran and Program Coordinator John Laursen (Army Retired); Dr. Jerry Ballard (ERDC); Mr. Nathan Frantz (US Army Corps of Engineers); Visiting Scholar and Brigadier General Michael D. Phillips (USA Retired); Dr. Samantha Chambers RDECOM Science Advisor to the XVIII Airborne Corps; and Lieutenant Colonel Jovanna Nelson.

Congratulations to Stephanie Dauth, Ben Maoz, & Sean Sheehy on the cover of the Journal of Neurophysiology May 11th, 2017

Congratulations to our Brain Team for getting the cover of this month’s Journal of Neurophysiology “Neurons derived from different brain regions are inherently different in vitro: A novel multiregional brain-on-a-chip

Close-up image of axons that
have been grown over a 1-mm gap on a microcontact printed PLL/laminin lines connecting the different brain regions

Robotic Stingray wins Gold Medal at Edison Awards! April 25th, 2017

Congratulations to Professor Kit Parker and Sung-Jin Park, Ph.D. who received a gold medal in the engineering category at the Edison Awards for their work on the cyborg stingray.  The Edison Awards honor excellence in new product and service development, marketing, human-centered design and innovation.

 

Photo courtesy of Michael Rosnach

 

Welcome Dr. Cera and Dr. Lee! April 3rd, 2017

The DBG would like to extend a warm welcome to our new postdoctoral fellows, Luca Cera & Keel Yong Lee. Luca comes to us from Berlin, German, where he recently completed his Ph.D. in Chemistry under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Christoph A. Schalley. Keel Yong recently completed his Ph.D. in Prof. Kwanwoo Shin’s lab at Sogang University in Seoul, South Korea. We are looking forward to expanding on our past collaborations with him.