Cardiovascular Disease & Regenerative Medicine

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) accounts for 32% of deaths in Canada, costing the economy ~$18 billion/year. While new drugs and innovative biomedical devices have played a significant role in improving the quality of life for patients suffering from CVD, they have not been successful in improving the morbidity or mortality rates. Tissue engineering has emerged as a promising solution to replace the various components of the cardiovascular system (blood vessels, heart valves and cardiac muscle). The Santerre group in collaboration with fellow biomaterials, biomechanics and engineering scientists are exploring the application of tissue engineering principles for the development of cardiovascular tissue that has mechanical, cellular and physiological properties comparable to that of native healthy tissue. To achieve the latter objective, extensive research has been dedicated to exploring and manipulating the scaffold chemistries, cell sources and culture environments (biochemical, mechanical and electrical cues).

Vascular Tissue Engineering

The Santerre laboratory has extensively investigated vascular tissue engineering and the use of polyurethane (PU)-based polymeric scaffolds for the replacement of diseased small-diameter blood vessels. Using stem/progenitor cells and three-dimensional PU scaffolds, the lab focuses on studying the role of physiologically-relevant mechanical and biomechanical (white blood cells) stimuli in modulating cell function and vascular tissue regeneration with the ultimate goal of generating a functional small-diameter blood vessel.

Cardiac Tissue Engineering

We are also extending our research and tissue engineering knowledge to develop functional cardiac tissue. The lack of oxygen and nutrient supply to the cardiomyocytes following a myocardial infarction results in extensive cell death and myocardium damage. The Santerre group aims to use stem/progenitor cells with PU-based scaffolds (electrospun, porogen-leached) in combination with biochemical, mechanical and electrical stimuli to generate a vascularized myocardium with appropriate contractile functionality. Our interests also lies in the use of PU-based nanoparticles in combination with the engineered patches, as a vehicle for the delivery of drugs/bioactive agents (e.g. growth factors) to the cardiac tissue.

Valve Tissue Engineering

The generation of viable heart valve tissue using tissue engineering represents a novel strategy to overcome the limitations of traditional valve replacements. The Santerre group is specifically focused on the development of PU-based polymeric scaffolds that support the synthesis and organization of cell and extracellular matrix with target compositional, organizational, and mechanical properties. Our interests also involve the study of biochemical and biomechanical conditions that promote valvular tissue generation.