The main focus of our research is the investigation of the in situ remodeling of vascular bioengineered implants in vivo. In a series of experiments our group has demonstrated the successful in vitro manufacture and in vivo implantation of different vascular bioengineered structures, including tissue engineered vascular grafts, heart valves, venous valves or vascular patch materials. In spite of the success in creating these replacement structures in vitro, only little is known about the actual remodeling mechanisms in vivo. However, this knowledge is of critical importance with regards to guiding the cellularization, scaffold (bio)degradation, and de-novo tissue formation in vivo. Therefore, our group has initiated several projects with this common denominator of elucidating mechanisms of in situ remodeling of vascular bioengineered structures. This includes in particular:
i) identification of cell-mediated mechanisms of host cell and progenitor cell attraction via release of paracrine factors (secretome),
ii) analysis of the influence of different bioengineered matrix components on the cellular in situ remodeling,
iii) analysis of changes in the extracellular matrix architecture and remodeling in bioengineered constructs in vivo,
iv) assessment of immunological phenomena and cell types involved in the remodeling of bioengineered constructs in vivo,
v) assessment of novel minimally invasive/microsurgical implantation technologies of bioengineered constructs,
vi) investigation of cellular reprogramming techniques (including iPS cells) for the generation of ideal cellular phenotypes for vascular bioengineering, and
vii) development of bioengineered disease model systems for the in vitro modeling of human (cardio)vascular diseases.