Research Line of Soft Tissue Engineering and Mechanobiology

Cell-Matrix Interactions

We investigate how living cells shape and adapt their own environment in order to rationally design regenerative implants for the heart.

The research group investigates the interplay between living cells and the mechanobiological cues originating from the extracellular matrix under conditions of tissue growth, adaptation, regeneration and degeneration. For this, the group uses ‘living’ model systems (cell, cell-matrix, engineered tissue, native tissue) to quantify and understand these aspects at different levels of complexity. The obtained fundamental knowledge is translated into engineering approaches to restore or regenerate living tissues, in particular for the human heart. A prominent example is the development of a synthetic, biodegradable heart valve prosthesis that seduces the body to create a new, living heart valve at the site of implantation. Along this line, novel developments concentrate on the in situ tissue engineering of coronary arteries and vascular access grafts.

Another important research topic focuses on restoring tissue organization in compromised myocardium and other soft tissues. This research aims to understand extracellular matrix synthesis and remodeling under mechanical loading conditions and in the presence of degradable scaffolds using platforms of miniaturized heart tissues.

The research is performed in close collaboration with material scientists, life scientists, clinicians, and medtech spin-offs within national and international consortia in the field of Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering.

Research Center for Materials-Driven Regeneration

This research group participates in the Research Center for Materials-Driven Regeneration (MDR) which brings materials scientists, cell biologists, tissue engineers and medical scientists together to jointly work on the regeneration of tissue and organ function with intelligent, life-like materials.