Advancing the Understanding and Treatment of Heart Diseases

Scientific Approach

The main scientific bottleneck towards models that effectively simulate diseased tissues is the foetal-like state of the human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) derived cardiomyocytes (CMs). That is, hiPSC-CMs do not reach adult-like maturity. The objective of this project is to produce a platform for growth and maturation of cardiac microtissues for adult-like organotypic models in healthy and diseased states.

To achieve that, biomimetic microenvironment that provides all the needed stimuli (electrical, mechanical, topological (3D environment) and biochemical (release of active molecules)), during the maturation of hiPSC-CMs will be developed. This will be achieved by combining electro-mechanoactive polymer-based scaffolds (EMAPS) with bioactive membranes.

To characterize the effects of cardiovascular disease (CVD) drugs, the contractility of the microtissue will be monitored continuously and simultaneously (over 24-wells) using the sensors developed during the project. To increase the sensitivity and accuracy of the model, deep-learning based algorithms to detect the effects of drugs in vitro will be developed and verified.


Figure 1: The concept of EMAPS: mature, adult-like cardiac models will be realized by biomimetic stimulation.