Columbia Engineering researchers have
developed a tissue-engineering platform that is capable of “patching” a damaged
Vunjak-Novakovic, study leader and professor of Biomedical Engineering at
Columbia University's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science,
and a team of researchers, have created a technique that could improve
treatment for health issues such as cardiovascular disease.
are very excited about this new technique," said Vunjak-Novakovic.
"This platform is very adaptable and we believe it could be readily
extended to the delivery of other types of human stem cells we are interested
in to rebuild the heart muscle and further our research of the mechanisms
underlying heart repair."
method is a revolutionary
cell therapy that treats heart damage that comes after having a heart
attack, known as myocardial infarction. To do this, researchers extracted the
cells of the myocardium, which is a human heart muscle, and left a protein
scaffold that is filled with human mesenchymal progenitors, which are stem
cells that differentiate into other cell types. The scaffold also possesses
mechanical properties and a solid architecture. The patches were then placed
onto damaged heart tissue, where they released proteins that encouraged the
original tissue to repair itself as well as stimulated the growth of new blood
controllable platform also made it easy to find "signaling mechanisms"
that aid the repair process, which helps researchers understand the effect of
scaffold design and cell roles on the heart's repairing process. This new
technique for the first time uses both human repair cells -- which were
conditioned during in-vitro culture to improve blood flow and revascularize
infarcted tissue -- and a "fully biological composite" scaffold --
which sends cells to the damaged heart -- to enhance cell survival and function
in the infarct bed. Many of these cells die due to problems with blood supply,
but now, researchers can patch the heart to encourage
really is encouraging to make progress with 'instructing' cells to form human
tissues by providing them with the right environments," said
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."
step is to look into the creation of a contractile cardiac patch that can treat
vascular and muscle compartments of the heart muscle through human stem cells.
Vunjak-Novakovic would like to eventually see these controllable platforms
assembled and used in operating rooms to detect signaling mechanisms that have
to do with the heart's
study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of