Engineering Vascular Beds that Connect to Ex Vivo Tissue
Following a myocardial infarction, the necrotic tissue in the infarction zone is replaced by a fibrotic scar. Even though this scar tissue helps to hold the heart together and maintain its structure, it does not contribute to the heart’s function and can impair its ability to contract and relax properly. One of the main goals of the Cell-MET program is to engineer a vascularized cardiac patch that can be grafted onto scar tissue to assist the heart with its pumping action. Successful engraftment of the cardiac patch into the host tissue depends on rapid anastomosis of the engineered vasculature to the host vasculature because failure to establish adequate blood flow within the first few days can lead to necrosis of the patch and ultimately graft failure.
To better study vascular engraftment, the Chen lab is currently developing a vascular-engraftment-on-chip model that is composed of a microfluidic device with an engineered vascular bed and a living tissue explant. Together with Terry Ching, a postdoctoral researcher in the Chen lab, the REU student will help with the design and manufacturing of diverse prototypes of the microfluidic chip and conduct ex vivo engraftment experiments with engineered vasculature.
• Describing the dynamics of vascular engraftment of the engineered vascular bed into the tissue explant. The REU student will visualize and quantitatively evaluate vascular ingrowth into the tissue explant over the course of one week using time-lapse microscopy and fluorescently labeled cell.
• Gain experience in experimental design and data analysis.
Weeks 1-2: Orientation in the lab, manufacturing first iteration of devices, learning vascular cell culture.
Weeks 3-5: conduct first round of ex vivo engraftment experiments, and optimize the design of the model system if required.
Weeks 6-9: Conduct second round of ex vivo engraftment experiments with optimized model system.
Week 10: Finish data analysis and synthesize final presentation.