Leveraging Developmental Principles for Engineering Cardiac Tissue

PI: Laurie Boyer, Department of Biology and Biomedical Engineering, MIT

Human iPSCs hold great promise for tissue engineering and disease modelling; yet deriving mature, functional cell types in vitro remains a key challenge. In this proposal, we will leverage our expertise in hiPSC and cardiac biology as well as in genetic engineering to advance developmentally guided approaches for generating cardiac tissue in the dish. Our work to establish the molecular instructions for development of mature cardiac muscle cells (CMs) will serve as a critical framework to build a better model “heart”. We will also develop quantitative systems for measuring functional markers of cardiac physiology during stem cell differentiation that can be extended to assess cellular responses to drugs or injury. Using this system, we will also test how co-culture of endothelial cells, which give rise to the vaculature, impacts proper maturation and function of cardiac muscle. Our work will establish next generation tools and approaches for realizing the potential of stem cell-derived tissues in pharmacology and medicine. Many of our ideas and approaches are too innovative and early stage for conventional funding and thus, funding from MIT-Skoltech is critical to support this transformative work.

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