Fraunhofer Attract group Cardiovascular Tissue Engineering
Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology
In January 2010, a new Attract group focusing on cardiovascular tissue engineering and regenerative medicine under the direction of stem cell biologist Dr. Katja Schenke-Layland was created at the Fraunhofer IGB Department of Cell and Tissue Engineering, headed by Professor Heike Walles. The Attract group at the Fraunhofer IGB is primarily focused on two specific topics: the analysis of cellular and extracellular components of developing heart valves, and the development of new carrier substrates for heart valve tissue engineering. The results of this work will be used to develop an optimal heart valve replacement.
Dr. Schenke-Layland completed her Ph. D. at the University of Jena where she focused on the tissue engineering of alternative cardiovascular tissues, particularly heart valves and blood vessels, and the development of minimal-invasive imaging modalities to monitor structure, composition and function of native and engineered tissues. From 2005-2009, her scientific work concentrated on stem cell, matrix and biomaterials research, first in a post-doc capacity, then as Assistant Research Professor at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA).
Good to know
- Fraunhofer Attract
The ”Fraunhofer Attract” grant is the excellence stipend program of Fraunhofer. ”Fraunhofer Attract” invites outstanding researchers to develop their ideas towards innovations at Fraunhofer. An idea becomes an innovation, if it comes to use. The grant ”Fraunhofer Attract” offers outstanding external scientists the opportunity to develop their ideas towards an actual application within an optimally equipped Fraunhofer institute operating close to the market. The scientist will be offered a budget of 2.5 Million euros over 5 years to lead a group of 3-5 co-workers.
- Morphological Sciences Award of the American Association of Anatomists (AAA), 2010
- Familie Klee Preis of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Biomedizinische Technik (DGBMT/VDE), 2004
- Identification of pluripotent stem cells for regeneration of heart muscle cells
Since over 98 percent of cardiac muscle cells are at their final stage of differentiation, in which they cannot proliferate, the regenerative ability of the heart is extremely limited. A focus of our research is therefore to identify suitable cells that have the potential to replace damaged heart muscle cells in order to restore heart function. Currently, we are testing human pluripotent stem cells as a source of functional heart muscle tissue .
- Elucidation of cell differentiation in heart valve development
The cell phenotype of the outflow tract valves (pulmonary and aortic valve) is still unknown. The exact identification of the progenitor cell phenotype of these valves and the characterization of the developing extracellular matrix are a critical step in the development of an ideal heart valve replacement. Our group deals with the developmental intra- and extracellular mechanisms that occur during heart valve development, a process known as valvulogenesis.
- Development of cell lines for the production of extracellular matrix proteins
Another project is the genetic engineering of cell lines used for the permanent in vitro production of human extracellular matrix proteins. The in vitro-synthesized proteins will be used in the creation of allogeneic biomaterials that serve as optimal hybrid substrates for tissue-engineered myocardium and heart valves. For this process we will employ innovative technologies such as electrospinning.
- Project partners
- University Hospital of the Eberhard Karls University Tübingen
- University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Department of Medicine / Cardiology and Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Los Angeles, USA
- University of Southern California (USC), Department of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Los Angeles, USA
- Cell & Tissue Systems Inc., North Charleston, USA
- Design of two- and three-dimensional in vitro systems for maintenance and expansion of pluripotent and adult stem cells
- Analysis of extracellular matrix components using minimal-invasive multiphoton microscopy
- Development of tissue and organ preservation methods
- Design of novel biomaterials for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications
 Schenke-Layland, K., Riemann, I., Damour, O., Stock, U.A., König, K. (2006) Two-photon microscopes and in vivo multiphoton tomographs--powerful diagnostic tools for tissue engineering and drug delivery. Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 58: 878-896
 Schenke-Layland K, Rhodes KE, Angelis E, Butylkova Y, Heydarkhan-Hagvall S, Gekas C, Zhang R, Goldhaber JI, Mikkola HK, Plath K, MacLellan WR. (2008) Reprogrammed mouse fibroblasts differentiate into cells of the cardiovascular and hematopoietic lineages. Stem Cells. 26(6): 1537-1546
 Schenke-Layland K, Nsair A, Van Handel B, Angelis E, Gluck JM, Votteler M, Goldhaber JI, Mikkola HK, Kahn M, Maclellan WR. (2011) Recapitulation of the embryonic cardiovascular progenitor cell niche. Biomaterials. 32(11): 2748-2756.
 Schenke-Layland, K. (2008) Non-invasive multiphoton imaging of extracellular matrix structures. J Biophotonics 1(6): 451-462
 Brockbank, K.G., Heacox, A.E., Schenke-Layland, K. (2011) Cells Tissue Organs. Guidance for removal of fetal bovine serum from cryopreserved heart valve processing. 193(4): 264-273
 Schenke-Layland, K. et al. (2009) Biomaterials 30(27): 4665-4675
 Schenke-Layland K, MacLellan WR. (2009) Induced pluripotent stem cells: it's like déjà vu all over again. Circulation 120(15): 1462-1464