The body's immune system is an incredibly versatile entity, equally capable of tissue destruction and construction. The potential of harnessing this duality for tissue regeneration is tremendously fascinating and challenging.
Our research revolves around the question of how can we modulate the immune response using biomaterials in order to induce functional, homeostatic tissue regeneration? Therein we focus mainly on macrophages as the target cells as they are consistently demonstrated to be of essential importance for tissue regeneration. Knowledge on the responsible mechanisms of inflammation in wound healing and tissue regeneration and the intrinsic potential for regenerative medicine and cardiovascular tissue engineering strategies is only scarcely available. To fully explore and apply this potential our research is dedicated to gaining a mechanistic understanding of the interactions between immune cell behaviour, biomaterial design, and biomechanical loads, in conditions of health and disease. To that end, the ImmunoRegeneration group follows two main research thrusts: (1) the influence of biomaterial parameters (e.g. microstructure, mechanical properties, degradative properties) on in situ cardiovascular regeneration, and (2) the effect of patient-specific characteristics (e.g. sex, age, comorbidities) via advanced human in vitro disease platforms. The main target applications are cardiovascular replacements (e.g. heart valves and blood vessels), yet the research is curiosity-driven, and applicable to a wide variety of clinical applications.