Heart Regeneration

The human heart project aims to engineer a bioartificial heart for clinical application and transplantation. In our approach, we use the native cardiac extracellular matrix (ECM) to support cardiac cell types that work synergistically to generate sustainable ventricular pump function. Translating our previous work to a clinical scale, we have developed protocols for perfusion decellularization of both human and large animal hearts. Our decellularization process renders a complex acellular cardiac ECM scaffold, with a perfusable coronary tree, preserved matrix integrity, conserved biomaterial properties, and patent valves. The native cardiac matrix is well suited to support the viability and function of new cardiac cells. We are currently developing new approaches to recellularize cardiac ECM scaffolds and regenerate human myocardium. To facilitate this regeneration, we are designing and validating novel whole-heart bioreactors that recapitulate cardiac physiology to aid in the maturation of recellularized cardiac matrices. Newly regenerated myocardium is then characterized using state-of-the-art techniques to evaluate and quantify electromechanical cardiac function. This project draws from expertise in stem cell biology, developmental biology, physiology, cardiology, and biomedical engineering in pursuit of creating a bioartificial heart that will one day provide a viable treatment option for patients in need of heart transplants.