Cardiac Tissue Regeneration
Today, approximately 50% of people that experience myocardial infarction (MI) will die within 5 years. Following MI there are four possible outcomes: immediate death, delayed death, functional recovery with the formation of scar tissue, and recovery with impaired function. Of these four outcomes, two are fatal, while the other two drastically reduce the patient's quality of life. As scar tissue is not cellularized, the formation of scar tissue significantly decreases pumping ability of the heart. This is due to the loss of muscle tissue and by the blocking of electrical signals by the scar tissue. With the most effective cure today being whole organ transplantation, the Monaghan Lab is looking for a better solution by developing a scaffold that will promote cardiac muscle regeneration. This has been successful with stem cell differentiation from both traditional and Induced pluripotent stem cells; however, these advances have been limited to 2D cultures and do not adequately replicate the cardiac environment. If a 3D hydrogel could be made with the correct mechanical, biological, and electrical properties to mimic the cardiac environment, then cardiomyocytes and their progenitor cells would have the ability to be cultured to maturity. The end goal of this project is to fabricate 3D hydrogels with an electrically conductive biomaterial that grows viable cardiomyocytes from Induced pluripotent stem cells
Our group focuses on the fabrication of natural polymer based scaffolds enriched with synthetic compounds to further recapitulate the in vivo environment towards creating models whereby mechanical, chemical and electrical stimulation can enrich cell differentiation and function.
These scaffolds can be further functionalized as tunable depots of pharmaceutical agents, gene delivery and silencing and modifiers of epigenetics.