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Engineering vascularized tissue constructs from human embryonic stem cells


The current status of rapidly increasing demand for organ and tissue transplantation in Europe and world wide has promoted tissue engineering as a promising alternative, in particular the use of stem cells. Human embryonic stem cells (hESC) have the advantage of differentiating to all cell types in the body and high proliferation capabilities. Considering their ability to organize into complex multi-cell type structures during embryonic-like differentiation, hESC can potentially provide a source of cells for tissue engineering applications and meet the growing demand for viable human tissue structures in therapeutic clinical application. The aim of this proposed program is to develop a new approach for the use of human embryonic stem cells (hESC) in engineering tissue substitutes, using three-dimensional cultures on biodegradable polymeric scaffolds.

Our experimental strategy will comprise of:
i) Three-dimensional culture of differentiating hESC on polymer scaffolds and in vitro tissue vascularization.
ii) Engineering complex vascularized tissue substitutes and their implantation in immune deficient animals to study integration and vascularization in vivo.

We intend to focus on three-dimensional multi cell-type interactions and organization, and to study the key factors in the vascularization process. Full comprehension and control of hESC differentiation and 3D organization could pave the way to develop new tools for engineering human tissues from hESC for tissue repair and various transplantations. This can also provide unique culture systems for studying human embryonic cellular interactions.

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