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.

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What's New

Post-Doc Opening: Rapid Manufacturing of Regenerative Heart Valves May 7th, 2018

Prof. Kevin Kit Parker’s Disease Biophysics Group at the Harvard University Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering seeks a talented post-doctoral fellow to work on the rapid manufacturing of regenerative heart valves, or JetValves. The candidate will use the proprietary rotary jet spinning technologies developed in the Parker lab to design, build, and test heart valve replacements using natural and synthetic polymeric nanofibers. The goal of this translational project – which is part of an international collaboration with the University of Zurich in Switzerland – is to complete the preclinical characterization of JetValves in preparation for a first-in-man clinical trial.

 

Application Procedure

Interested candidates should submit their application packet to Prof. Kevin Kit Parker (kkparker@g.harvard.edu) and his admin assistant Dr. Ben Smith (bdsmith@g.harvard.edu) as a single pdf file with the following documents: cover letter, CV, 3 relevant papers, and the names of three referees.

More details found at: https://wyss.harvard.edu/job/rapid-manufacturing-of-regenerative-heart-valves/

 

Harvard University is an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, or any other characteristic protected by law.

DBGer Professors!! May 4th, 2018

Kit had an opportunity to spend time with some of the former DBGers who have now joined the ranks of the community of scholars. At the Keystone Conference in Big Sky Montana, he spent time with (shown in photo) Professor Megan McCain from the University of Southern California, Professor Ashutosh Agarwal at the University of Miami, and the newly minted Professor Ben Maoz, Tel Aviv University! On his recent trip to Seoul, Kit spent time with Professor Hyunksuk Lee at Yonsei University. We are proud of all of our alumni and grateful to see them out doing great things!

Congrats DBGers Medical School Bound! May 4th, 2018

The DBG celebrates a 100% success rate with its medical school applicants this year. Tara Murty will be attending Stanford Medical School, Madeleine Dahl will be attending Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine, Charles Alver will enter the Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of Miami, and Danielle Sawka has been accepted to the BA,MD program at Brown University. Congratulations!!

Congratulations to John Ferrier for winning the 2017 LG UltraWide Festival October 18th, 2017

The DBG would like to congratulate one of our lab managers, John Ferrier, on winning the 2017 LG UltraWide Festival which was hosted by Linus Tech Tips and Austin Evans!

DBG Nanofibers Merge with Art by Carla Ciuffo August 23rd, 2017

The Disease Biophysics Group would like to congratulate and thank Tennessee based artist Carla Ciuffo in her efforts to integrate our nanofibers into her art exhibit “Cosmic Garden” at Tinney Contemporary, opening this Saturday.

“Tundra,” 2017, polished acrylic with floating museum back frame, 48×48 on display at Tinney Contemporary. (Photo: Photo courtesy of the gallery)