Regenerative Medicine Utrecht


BRAVƎ – Engineering a biological device to support a sick heart

Clinica Universidad de Navarra in Spain leads BRAVƎ, an international research project aimed at restoring cardiac functionality by regenerating cardiac tissue. It is a coordinated project financed by the Horizon 2020 Program from the European Commission with €8M! RMU is one of 13 partners in this consortium.

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Ischemic cardiomyopathy is one of the most prevalent cardiac diseases. It occurs when one of the arteries irrigating the heart is occluded partially or completely, thus obstructing blood flow. It is the single main cause of death in the European Union, both in men (14%) and women (12%). It is a debilitating chronic disease with an estimated cost up to a total of €59M per year. The current treatment is limited to drugs or surgery (catheterization or by-pass). Still, these options are never a definitive solution due to the associated complications.

BRAVƎ brings together the latest scientific and technological advances in bioengineering or regenerative medicine such as 3D printing, biomaterials, and stem cells, alongside computational modelling and advanced bioengineering to fabricate a biological device that is able to pump alongside a damaged heart, thus providing functional support.

The consortium will develop this first-of-a-kind device on a human scale, using a pig as model, as this is the animal with the most similar cardiac physiology to humans. By computational modelling, functionality and biomechanics of the human heart will be reproduced. This data will be applied in the generation of human cardiac cells from stem cells, to precisely replicate the characteristics of the patient´s heart. At the same time, a new bioreactor will allow the maintenance of this complex bioengineered structure until transplantation.

‘This device, which we call BioVAD, will be designed to maximize force production from the cells, assuring functional support to the diseased heart,’ says Dr. Manuel Mazo, project collaborator and researcher at Cima Universidad de Navarra.

‘Given our clear translational intent, the project will begin in a clinically relevant animal model – the pig – and will end in transplantation of the BioVADs in that same model, in a personalised fashion: structure and function will be modelled in the same animals for which the BioVADs will be fabricated,’ explains Dr. Prósper Clinica Universidad de Navarra and Cima.

For RMU, Dr. Miguel Castilho and Dr. Alain van Mil will participate in this collaboration. Miguel will take care of the model-to-design of the scaffolds with melt eletrowriting. Alain will take care of the cardiac cell production, which will be combined with the scaffolds for compatibility testing.

Miguel and Alain have already experience with combining their expertise. For more information on both researchers and their work, read our!


This post has been translated from the original press release: