A number of different adult cardiac stem cells are currently utilized in clinical trials. While these cells have shown little to no ability to differentiate into functional mature cardiomyocytes, their ability to improve cardiac function has been demonstrated in many studies. One reason for the lack of regeneration by adult stem cell therapies may be that many of the cells are ejected by the powerful beat of the heart after injection. A potential solution to this problem will be developed in the EU FP7 project Advanced Materials for Cardiac Regeneration (AMCARE) where smart biomaterials and advanced drug delivery methods are coupled with therapeutics to create minimally-invasive surgical approaches to improve the delivery of adult cardiac stem cells to the ischemic heart.

Cryopreservation of Biomaterials

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ECM-based hydrogels

Our group creates growth factor loaded hydrogels as either standalone tissue engineered constructs or as hybrid scaffolds to be combined with other materials. We are working on a number of projects that combine our hybrid hydrogels with different biofunctional molecules to create injectable therapies.


Electrospinning has been investigated since the early 1900's, but it was not until the 1990's that scientists first began to spin organic polymers. Since these first publications, interest in electrospinning has expanded exponentially. In laymen’s terms, the process involves the high voltage excitement of a polymer solution, which then charges the liquid. This charge creates what is called a Taylor cone. A liquid stream then shoots from the cone, towards a target collector, where it can form fibrous mats. These mats are very similar to tissue paper, but can be modified to have different physical characteristics. We have used these mats as biological scaffolds to demonstrate their utility in cardiovascular regenerative therapies, to mimic the embryonic cardiovascular progenitor cell niche, and as a potential substrate for tracheal tissue engineering.


DRIVE aims to improve pancreatic islet transplant therapy for diabetes mellitus, a chronic disease characterised by high blood sugar due to a shortage of insulin. Transplant of insulin-producing pancreatic islets restores tight natural control of blood sugar, eliminating the need for multiple daily injections of insulin, that ultimately affect patient’s quality of life.

Thanks to the combined use of an injectable gel “β-Gel” acting as a protective matrix for the islets and of an innovative drug delivery system “β-Shell” for tuneable and localised release of immunosuppressive/anti-inflammatory drugs, DRIVE aims to dramatically improve the survival and engraftment rate of transplanted islets, thereby widening the application of islet transplant therapy to more insulin-dependent diabetes patients.

Recombinant Proteins

Our group has identified target ECM proteins for cardiovascular regenerative therapies and tissue-engineered transplants. These essential proteins, created by transfected CHO cells, are now produced in our lab and are being prepared for in vivo studies. Once the in vivo functionality of the proteins have been verified, we will be able to quickly move our system into our department GMP facility located at the Fraunhofer IGB and begin the process of producing therapeutically relevant and GMP validated proteins.