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Columbia engineers patch a heart
Date:5/6/2011

operties. They filled the scaffold with human mesenchymal progenitors (stem cells that can differentiate into many cell types) and then applied the patches to damaged heart tissue. The patches promoted the growth of new blood vessels and released proteins that stimulated the native tissue to repair itself. Moreover, the team also used this controllable platform to identify the signaling mechanisms involved in the repair process, and expand our knowledge about the role of cells and scaffold design on heart repair.

"It really is encouraging to make progress with 'instructing' cells to form human tissues by providing them with the right environments," noted Dr. Vunjak-Novakovic. "The cells are the real 'tissue engineers'we only design the environments so they can do their work. Because these environments need to mimic the native developmental milieu, the progress in the field is really driven by the interdisciplinary work of bioengineers, stem cell biologists, and clinicians. By enabling regeneration and replacement of our damaged tissues, we can help people live longer and better."

Dr. Vunjak-Novakovic and her team already have several active research projects that continue this line of work. They are now investigating the formation of a contractile cardiac patch using human stem cells that can give rise to both the muscle and vascular compartments of the heart muscle. They are also studying how the cells within such a cardiac patch, when implanted on infarcted heart tissue, develop their ability to generate mechanical force and electrical conduction, and how these functions can be modulated by in-vitro culture.

"Ultimately, we envision this system as a possible point of care approach," said Dr. Vunjak-Novakovic, "with components actually produced and assembled in the operating room to most effectively target-signaling mechanisms involved in the repair process of someone's damaged heart."


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Contact: Holly Evarts
holly@engineering.columbia.edu
212-854-3206
Columbia University
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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