Funded project summary:
Professor Ipsita Roy’s team at the University of Sheffield was recently awarded £45,750, to take forward the following project:
A NATURAL AND SUSTAINABLE BIOMATERIAL-BASED 3D MODEL OF HEALTHY CARDIAC TISSUE
Professor Ipsita Roy, Department of Material Science and Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Sheffield, UK
The heart is an essential organ in the human body, hence, understanding heart functioning is crucial. Unfortunately, according to the WHO, in 2030, almost 23.6 million people will die from heart disease. The annual economic burden imposed by this disease has reached more than £700 million in the UK. Biomaterial based solutions, especially the concept of a cardiac patch
to replace the scar tissue generated after a heart attack, is very attractive. All current patches have limitations; hence, new materials are needed. Also, numerous heart-related drugs are currently tested on animals. Development of heart tissue in the laboratory will allow the initial
testing to be carried out using this tissue.
In this project we propose to develop a 3D cardiac tissue model that will help us address all the above issues including the in-depth understanding of heart tissue, the development of cardiac patches, and finally to have a 3D cardiac tissue model to test new drugs for heart disease. We will focus on the production of 3D healthy heart tissue in this project, the 3D bioengineered cardiac muscle (3D-BCM). The biomaterials used to make this 3D-BCM will be natural, sustainable, biodegradable and biocompatible. The main structure of the 3D-BCM will be 3D-printed using a relatively less explored biomaterial, Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), produced using bacterial fermentation.
These polymers are FDA approved for medical applications. The main advantage of using these polymers is the varied range of properties they exhibit. PHAs can be hard and stiff or soft and elastomeric. Hence, one can blend them to obtain a biomaterial to match almost any tissue type. The degradation products of the PHAs are weak acids and hence noninflammatory; and they degrade in a controlled manner by surface erosion. All these properties make PHAs highly attractive candidates to form the basic structure of scaffolds in 3D tissue models. The choice of the type of PHA blend to be used will be decided by mathematical modelling. In addition, another natural polymer, alginate will be used as a soft hydrogel carrier for the cells and active factors which will be 3D printed within the PHA-based matrix. Alginate is a natural polymer extracted from sea-weed and is a known biocompatible carrier for cells. This will allow controlled 3D printing of the cells. Time permitting, a 3D bioreactor containing media suitable for the growth and maturation of the cardiac tissue and the endothelial cells will be used. The maturation of the tissue will be followed using special imaging techniques.